There’s an old line that parents swap, and it goes something like:
People who aren’t parents think that there’s not a chasm between people who are and are not parents. People who are parents know that there is one.
It’s not better or worse to be a parent, it’s just a different worldview and state of mind, a line that you cross and can never go back.
I think fundraisers experience something similar. A good fundraiser is just as smart and savvy and capable and strategic as non-fundraisers – indeed much of what motivated me to start this blog was how frustrated I was to see that the nonprofit world sidelined fundraisers and fundraising and then wondered why it was so hard to scale things that work.
But there is something different about being a (good) fundraiser. It means that at any day, at any moment, on some level you’re thinking about that revenue line, thinking about where you are in the year, how much time you have left, and what it’s going to take to get there.
This, too, isn’t good or bad, it just is. It’s something you feel in your bones and in your gut. And living with that feeling and that stress does take some getting used to. I think the challenge of living with that discomfort is where lots of the burnout for fundraisers comes from.
My hope is that if we acknowledge it, if we say it out loud, if we share that this is something we are all holding, the weight that we are bearing gets just a bit lighter.