4 strategies for turning year-end stress into fundraising success

Were T. S. Eliot a fundraiser and not a poet and assuming a June 30 fiscal year-end (the standard for North American charities), he’d likely name May and June, along with April, as the cruelest time of year. The last leg of the annual race for the gold is the most taxing, always. With the year-end deadline looming large, development staff are stretched to the limit — physically, emotionally, and spiritually — and soul care gets lost in the busyness.


Fundraisers of faith carry the weight of Kingdom goals on their shoulders. The adage about “no money, no mission” is personal to them. With so much on the line, it’s tempting to push the edges of acceptable tactics — to justify strategies that in calmer times would be dismissed out of hand.

As longtime development officers know, the differences can be hard to discern between right approaches and those that are questionable. All the more so when you’re exhausted and stressed.

Author and spiritual advisor Ruth Haley Barton warns in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership:

When we keep pushing forward without taking adequate time for rest and replenishment, our way of life may seem heroic, but there is a frenetic quality to our work that lacks true effectiveness because we have lost the ability to be present to God, to be present to other people [including donors], and to discern what is really needed in our situation.


There’s no turning the calendar back. June 30 (or other year-end) is a hard deadline. The organization’s books will close. There will be an accounting.

What’s a fundraiser to do? My advice — take preemptive action now in anticipation of the crush to come, beginning with the following four steps:

  • Stick close to your church family. In Barton’s words, “establish rhythms for life in community,” confident that the work you do in six days will be enough and God can be trusted with running the world while you rest.
  • Make prayer, meditation, and Bible study a priority. It’s sad that when we most need the sweet refreshment of quiet time with God, we slough it off.  If you can’t manage an hour, even a few minutes a day in prayer and the Word will help gird you for the fundraiser’s world of care.
  • Retreat before pushing forward. Sounds crazy, I know. August is the more likely month for a day or two away. But as Barton writes, “If an army keeps slogging it out on the battlefield without taking time to regroup, it is doomed to defeat. And so it is with the Christian leader-warriors. . . On retreat we rest in God and wait on him to do what is needed. Eventually we return to the battle with fresh energy and keener insight.”
  • Take a spiritual friends with you. Seek out a spiritually astute traveling companion for the three-month journey ahead – someone who’s sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and who can help you hold true to your course. Time spent with a godly friend helps put your work in perspective and provides accountability.

With advance preparation, April, May and June can be the kindest time of year for you, your organization, and those who support it.

For more on this topic, check out:

Move your fundraising beyond the insanity of the same-old, same-old

Act now to break the insanity cycle

10 time-proven laws of fundraising



  1. Ann Steel says:

    Wonderful advice! Thank you for those four strategies.

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