As we come to the end of 2023, we begin thinking about the new year and new goals. January is the season of resolutions—resolutions to spend more time reading, budget better, exercise more … the list goes on and on. Odds are, some of us in fundraising are making resolutions around more qualification, stronger donor relations, more meaningful solicitations, and other similarly important activities.
But the more I get to know professionals within our field, the more I’m convinced that the foundation of fundraising success is connection—connection to what drives us to do our best work every day.
This is why I propose that reconnecting be at the top of our professional resolutions for 2024—a commitment to tending to the passion and relationships that give our work meaning and keep us engaged and effective. Consider the opportunities you have to build connections at a deeper level:
- Reconnect with your organization’s mission. When was the last time you did something specifically to remind yourself of the good your organization creates in your community? For example, sat in on a favorite professor’s class, participated in a service delivery project, watched pets walking out the door with their new adoptive families, etc? These are the activities we delay in our rush to get the work done, but push them aside for too long and we lose contact with the passion that keeps us going each day.
- Reconnect with your colleagues. This isn’t just saying “hello.” This is about staying in tune with their wins and their challenges, and with how your work is intertwined in ways obvious and subtle. Remembering that we’re not alone in our work, and that we’re working together to create a better world, can sustain us in challenging times. When was the last time you invited a colleague to lunch, asked how things are going, and truly listened?
- Reconnect with your donors. Those that I work with know my mantra “one more meeting each week.” But that’s not what this resolution is about; it’s about asking thoughtful questions, listening with intention, and truly engaging. At your core, you share a passion for a cause. Be intentional about kindling that shared passion and drawing strength from it.
- Reconnect with yourself. This is an opportunity for reflection. What drew you to this field? What unique strengths do you bring to your role? What have you learned about yourself, your community, and your world through your work? What growth goals do you have, how can you work toward those this year, and how can your peers and mentors support this growth?
The power of connection is well-documented in social science. Studies have connected it to mental health, immune system strength, healthy lifestyle choices, and even longevity. Let’s harness that power to fuel the critical work we will do this year, and stay connected to the value of our work throughout 2024.