Surviving the emotional ups and downs of fundraising

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood swings: from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.

Thus it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God’s beloved children.” — Henri Nouwen in Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

In recent weeks I’ve talked with several fundraisers still licking their wounds from a not-so-spectacular end to the fiscal year that closed on July 31. These hard-working development folk are reeling from the emotional roller-coaster ride described in the above quote from Henri Nouwen. In fact, the ups and (mostly) downs of the past year have left them a little green around the quills, metaphorically speaking.

stick_figure_push_up_arrow_7096I have every confidence most will recover their equilibrium and buy a ticket for the FY14 ride. In the meantime, however, the disappointment, the frustration, and the self-doubt are real. As is their emotional, physical, and spiritual weariness.

In Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry, Thom Jeavons and I write about the need to give attention to one’s spiritual condition when raising funds in a faith-based setting. We caution that “the pressures of raising funds in high-stress environments can sap spiritual reserves. This in turn opens the door to actions that run counter to Christlike behavior. The difference between right activities and approaches to the work and questionable ones are dangerously subtle. Gray areas abound in fundraising. It takes the clear light of God’s leading to see our way in the shadows.”

Fundraisers, as much or maybe even more so than most people, can benefit from the reminder that our “emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life.” God’s “well done” isn’t dependent upon total dollars raised in a 12-month period. We are “God’s beloved children,” regardless the tally at fiscal year-end.

If you’re one of the weary, you may also find the following posts helpful:

Smoky Mountain sabbath

To your own self be generous

Friendship, vocation, and staying the course

 

 

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