In our last three blogs, we talked about fundraising during a pandemic. Now we are seeing an incredible societal shift: many in our nation are waking up to the issue of systemic racism for first time. Others have long been aware of the problem, but have now been moved to action. And of course, many have not had the luxury to be anything but aware for their entire lives.
This is not an impersonal observation: I too have been listening, learning and growing. There are entire books to be written on philanthropy and its intersection with racial injustice. This is a necessary story to tell and system to assess. It’s critically important, and deserves voices better educated than my own to guide this conversation.
This is why I want to use today’s blog to do two things.
First, to share those voices with you. Here are a few that have meant a lot to me in these past few weeks:
- Shenequa Golding’s piece Maintaining Professionalism in the Age of Black Death is…a Lot
- Medium’s anti-racist reading list
- Vu Le, author of the blog Nonprofit AF, who has long discussed the challenges of fundraising, especially for nonprofits run by and/or serving BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)
- Kishhana Palmer’s article How to Keep Women of Color From Leaving the Fundraising Profession
Second, I want to support you: fundraisers who are still going to work every day, whether you’re headed to the office or to your kitchen table in your sweatpants.
It’s not an easy time to show up every day and inspire others to generosity. But what has always been true to me is to be a champion for fundraisers. So today I want to offer some thoughts of thanks, because you and the work you do matter:
- Remember that you’re in the business of moving people to generosity. When you move people to generosity, you often move them to compassion and social connection. This matters in creating a more just, equitable world. Your work is making a difference, and you should be proud to do it.
- Be kind to yourself. Whether it’s those kids who you’re supposed to care for while also calling donors and Zooming with colleagues, personal exhaustion from systemic injustice, economic anxiety, or so much more — this is not a time to hold yourself to perfection. Instead, set manageable goals, celebrate when you reach them, and stay connected to the causes that motivate you.
- Give grace to others too. Are your colleagues slower than usual to respond to your non-urgent emails? Distracted in meetings? Chances are they’re also struggling. Lead with compassion and you’ll not only support their well-being, you’ll support your own.
- Really engage with your prospects when it’s safe. Some will share many of your own concerns, and they too are looking for authentic connection and compassion. Call and listen. Be willing to share.
- Prepare tools you can use to professionally avoid or cut short conversations when they’re potentially damaging to you. Brainstorm with colleagues and leadership, so you can be prepared to draw boundaries for your own well-being.
As fundraisers, you are on the frontline of good — whether creating better healthcare systems, access to education, prison reform, or any number of worthwhile causes. Thank you for what you do.