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Year-End Self Care to Help You Stay at Your Best

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You’ve heard the old joke about being a professional fundraiser: It’s like being in a pie-eating contest where the prize for winning is more pie.

It can feel a bit out of control at times. Especially this time of year, when everything comes to a head: Your most important campaigns. Events. Online giving. It’s all happening, and it has to go well…

And it’s all up to you!

Are you taking care of yourself?

I hope you are. Self-care should be at the top of your (long) to-do list. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you could suddenly find yourself unable to keep up with the rest of the list.

We asked The Fundraisingology Lab community what they do to take care of themselves. We think you’ll find some deep wisdom and practical ideas that can really make this time of year better for you!


I try to shut down my computer at 6 pm, have an easy dinner, and relax with one of my favorite inspirational shows on TV, a cup of decaf coffee, and my one piece of yummy chocolate a night. I try to get to bed no later than 9.30 p.m. and finish the day with a few pages of a good relaxing book. 

Finally, while it’s tempting to skip my workout, I try to at least do two a week. And I get a good massage once or twice a month to really relax.

– Erica Waasdorp

Don’t jump too early on your fundraising results. Don’t check results on a daily basis and panic if they aren’t tracking against your targets. There’s nothing you can do in the early days of an appeal to change the outcomes – you need to let it land, you need to trust your strategy, you need to believe in what you’ve executed. Don’t second-guess yourself. Daily checking only sends the pulse racing.

Start to look when you would normally expect to see around 50% of donations in. In the meantime, if someone asks, tell them, “it’s looking on track, I’ll be more confident of predicting the outcome in a few more days.”

Another thing you can do is donate to a cause you care about – be the donor, feel the good feelings of doing something awesome … it always reminds me of the awesome experience the campaigns I’ve worked on are giving others.

– Fiona McPhee

I try to work out at least twice a week, surround myself with nature one or two times, and take a break from the computer or my desk as often as possible. My best work is often done during these 3 things anyhow so it’s a win win…

– John Lepp

One easy thing I’ve learned to do is the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It’s so simple you might not think it could possibly relax you and lower your stress. But it can! What’s more, you can practice this mindful breathing anywhere at any time.

You can dig more into the details by googling “4-7-8” but here’s a short how-to version:

  • Sit straight and inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
  • Hold that breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of 8.

Repeat that a few times. You’ll find that the calming feeling afterward becomes more powerful the more often you practice. 

– Julie Cooper

This is the time of year that your donors are most open to giving. Use this period to fundraise. That’s it. Focus your energy on the things that bring in donations. The other stuff can wait!

– Bas van Breemen

MOVE: in my case, it’s walking, twice a day, every day. Or snowshoeing in the winter wood. You get out in nature, step back from the keyboard, breathe deeply, clear your head and your heart, feel awe and wonder and gratitude and life and beauty and rhythm and inspiration in a force that’s greater than you or me or any of us. It’s so much of what we want to channel into our communications with donors, big and small, and your brain is literally solving problems for you while you’re doing it. If moving is a limitation for you or causes you pain, even just being out in nature, breathing, and experiencing it a couple of times a day can work wonders for self-care.

– Lisa Sargent

For as long as I can remember before I go to sleep at night (and every morning when I wake up), I acknowledge my gratitude for at least three things in my life. It could be as simple as being grateful for the coffee soon to be in my hand. Gratitude cultivates a sense of contentedness and fullness. And gratitude always improves one’s sleep.

– Harvey McKinnon

For the last ten years, I have been spending at least 20 hours a week with me. The busier I get, the more stressful my environment gets, the more fierce I become in spending time with me – whether it’s in prayer, gym, nature, driving, walking, chewing food, sipping tea, etc. Spending time alone is not the same as spending time with me. The latter is very intentional and purposeful. It can happen whether I am with people or not.

– Professor Jen Shang, Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, Co-founder

And some short ideas from The Fundraisingology Lab Community

My chocolate jar keeps me going, and sneaking out for walks in the sun whenever time allows.

– Caitlin

Book a January getaway as a reward.

– Christine

Book a long weekend away! (Outside of the standard long weekends!)

– Alanah

Would you like to learn more from a worldwide community of fundraisers who are facing the same things you face? Join The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. You’ll get the tools, the information, and the supporting community that will take you to new places in your fundraising career. Join the waiting list now and you’ll be the first to hear when the doors open again!

Related Blog Posts:

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3 Elements of Every Effective Fundraising Story
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What to Do if Your Year-End Fundraising Didn’t Meet Your Goals

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