3 tips for fundraisers to help you look after yourself and others during the Coronavirus crisis

I wanted to publish this video and article to help you look after yourself and keep at your best during the pandemic, in spite of all the challenges you’re wrestling with right now. 

I’ve got three key ideas that might just help you look after yourself and others. 

The first one came out of an interview I did with various leaders for my new ebook called “Power through the Pandemic”. For one chapter, I interviewed half a dozen leaders whose teams seem to be doing especially well in spite of all the difficulties that they’re facing. 

For instance, I asked one leader who I have respected and learned from over many years, Di Gornall of CentrePoint, ‘as a leader, what are you prioritising right now?’ 

She was really clear in her answer. 

Idea 1. Look after yourself first, and do it first thing.

‘The first thing I’m doing’ she said, ‘is looking after myself and keeping myself as well as I can. Because of this, she believes she’s in a fit state to look after her team and make the important decisions she is having to make at the moment.

When I asked ‘what does this look like in practice?’ she said, ‘well, I’ve found that the morning when I get up is the one time I’m in complete control of, without danger of being distracted.’

She explained that for years, before she starts her working day, she’s had the habit of getting up in time to do 30 minutes on her exercise bike. And she’s been doing it every single day, over the last couple of months, and it’s massively helped get her in a fit state to be at her best to deal with her leadership and fundraising challenges for the rest of the day. 

I’m not saying that you have to suddenly pick up an exercise bike habit. I am saying that what she suggested is really consistent with the main idea in this book, which I really like, and which has really helped me…

It’s called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and I mentioned it to Di four years ago. She’s said she has found it really helpful ever since. 

Earlier in my life, when I kept intending to get around to doing things which would be good for my well being, like 10 minutes of meditating or exercise or writing down things I’m grateful for…I would intend to do those… But once the day got started, I got busy, I got less motivated, and I would not get round to doing those healthy habits.

So the gift of this book is it makes a really persuasive argument that the one time you can control is that time when you first get up, before you get distracted by the day’s challenges.  So that’s the first idea I would suggest – try it for the next three days and notice whether you have better days or not. If it does, keep that habit going. I predict your stress levels will go down and your fundraising and leadership performance will improve.

Idea 2. As a leader, prioritise the well-being of your team, above all things.

This came from several other leaders I interviewed but in particular it came across so strongly when I talked to the excellent Paul McKenzie from Depaul UK.

He said, ‘there is nothing more important for me to focus my attention on right now, than the well-being of my team’.

Although that’s obvious, in a way, what came across to me really strongly is he’s absolutely congruent about this priority. He means it. And he’s making time to proactively give his leadership energy to this idea.

For instance, in all his conversations and meetings, the importance of looking after ourselves and each other is the first thing he talks about.

And at the end of team meetings, it’s the last signal he sends them – please look out for each other. Let me know if I can help you.

And he’s proactively contacting people just to check in to see if they want to chat. And he’s asking all of his colleagues to do the same. 

They know he’s got their back. 

And I believe that it’s not a coincidence that his team are also doing unbelievably well with their fundraising. They’re working as hard and bravely and creatively as they’ve ever done. 

My view is he’s created as strong a feeling of safety as is possible in these difficult times.  And then that also in turn, means that they’re in a position to go the extra mile and do wonderful work to help the beneficiaries of that charity. 

Idea 3. A learning mindset, and habits, make you more resilient

There is an excellent TED talk by Professor Angela Duckworth, who also wrote a great book called Grit. Duckworth is one of the world’s leading academics on the understanding of what resilience is and how you grow it. How can we can we become more gritty?

There are several themes in her book, but one of them is the power of making time to learn. There is a correlation between people who are very resilient and people who also value learning.

Duckworth makes a really persuasive argument that if even when times are hard, you’re finding a way to see what you can learn, you have a curious, learner’s perspective on events, then that helps you handle the ups and the downs more resiliently.

You’ve got a bigger picture of what’s going on. For instance, you’re not just evaluating each day on how much money you raised or how difficult it is, you’ve also got some sense of what could be happening in the medium and long term… you’re on the look-out for some positives that you and your charity can take from this difficult situation.

There’s this amazing fundraiser called Natalie, from Alzheimer’s Society, who’s in the Bright Spot Members Club, our online training and inspiration resource for fundraisers. 

She just emailed me last week saying she’s finding the resources in that club so helpful that even though she’s furloughed, and all day she’s looking after two small children full time, She’s been getting up at six o’clock in the morning, before the kids are awake, to learn, to prepare for when she’s back at work by watching training films and downloads from the Bright Spot Members Club.

The key thing she said to me that though in March she had been feeling a little jaded, the act of now regularly learning and getting inspired, it’s helped her fall back in love with fundraising.

To me this is absolutely consistent with what Duckworth is saying – that when you are genuinely learning, it feels good and it gives you an extra perspective with which to deal with everything else you’re solving at the moment.

And after reading or watching something that inspires you early in the day, it makes whatever you do later in the day easier because you’ve more likely to believe it’s worth searching for an answer. Whereas without that extra, inspired priming state, I think most of us find it harder to keep deliberately searching for an extra answer to a tough problem. 

So in conclusion, I’ve shared three ideas that might just help you go the extra mile to deal with well being. 

  1. Practice a healthy morning ritual, even for just 15 minutes. 
  2. As a leader, look out for your team’s well being ahead of everything else.
  3. Make time for learning. It will help you be more resilient and able to handle your fundraising challenges.

Want to keep learning?

If you want right now to take action on some of that, then one option is to check out my new ebook, called Power Through The Pandemic, which is completely free. You can download it for free at www.brightspotfundraising.co.uk/power .

If you want to go deeper, and get ongoing support, coaching and training help remotely, do have a look at the Bright Spot Members Club. It includes:

  • More than 30 films to train and inspire you
  • Twice weekly coaching calls with me 
  • A fantastic, supportive community.  

Curious? Take action today…

If you are able to sign up between now and Tuesday, the 19th of May you get your first month access to all of those inspiring resources for just £5!