Oct 30, 2019, 12:28 PM

Week 1 - Reboot: Overcoming cultural barriers to fundraising

Sometimes we all need to switch off and start again

In the first of four articles on overcoming the cultural barriers to fundraising, Action Planning Consultant Emily Petty starts with a clean slate.

Culture is one of the biggest barriers to fundraising success. Perhaps you need to re-shape how you engage with your supporters or simply scale up your fundraising but you know that there is a cultural barrier that is stopping you. Whatever the change you want to make, you need a motivated, happy and engaged team to help you deliver that change. 

Sadly, we know that poor wellbeing is a real issue for the workforce today. Stress and burn-out are on the rise. In a 2015 YouGov survey, 51% reported feeling exhausted or burnt out in their job. A recent in-depth survey of fundraisers’ wellbeing by Charity Well found that 50% of those that answered talked about experiencing stress at some point. Some of the causes identified included poor management and leadership, bullying, feeling alone and unrealistic targets and expectations.

No-one said it was easy
Fundraising is hard. It can feel overwhelming. As leaders and employers, we need to prioritise our staff’s wellbeing. If you want your team to be successful and to build meaningful relationships with supporters, you need to keep them happy, motivated and engaged.

But it’s easy to get wrapped up in work and distracted from the important business of employee welfare. We are constantly connected to our phones. We are bombarded with emails and notifications day and night. There is no time to switch off, rest and recover.

The statistics about loneliness and isolation are stark. It’s time to take a step back. 

How to reboot
Rebooting is personal but it is important to collectively acknowledge the need to reboot. Rest and recovery are an important part of the flow of life. An athlete training for a marathon takes their rest days as seriously as their training days. The same applies to how we live our working lives.

So how do you reboot? It is about consciously thinking about taking time out, taking breaks, being aware of your own rhythm, capacity and productivity. For leaders it is about giving people the permission to stop, take a lunch break or work in a different place.

Doing more and working harder isn’t going to make you achieve more.

Here are some top tips

  • Reflect on your goals daily and as a team
  • Take a lunch break
  • Try walking meetings
  • Ban email out of working hours
  • Ensure your team take their annual leave throughout the year
  • Give staff flexibility about when and where they work

Ready to reboot
Small changes can make a big difference to the way you and your team work, but even small changes need collaborative agreement, so that everyone in the team owns the change and understands each other’s needs.
I run workshops and webinars with leadership and fundraising teams to help you look at the challenges that are specific to your team culture. Every team is different so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Together we identify solutions.

I recently worked with a community fundraising team and we created a ‘reboot manifesto’. The team shared openly about what they needed from each other in order to succeed and the they agreed to commit to their manifesto to make the changes needed.

Just one example of how the decision to reboot can bond your team and recharge them with a new sense of collective purpose. Are you ready to push that button?

Read the rest of the series

Part 1: Reboot: Overcoming cultural barriers to fundraising

Part 2: Reconnect: Overcoming cultural barriers to fundraising

Part 3: Grow: Give your team the confidence to tap into their talents

Part 4:  Re-energise: Sometimes we all need to switch off and start again

Emily Petty

Emily Petty is a fundraising and charity consultant, helping charities explore challenges and prepare solutions. Having drawn her experience from over 19 years working in communications, marketing and fundraising, Emily works with leaders and teams to identify how to manage change and maximise fundraising potential.

To request an initial chat with Emily about overcoming your cultural barriers, call Action Planning.