President's Perspective Blog

Welcome to 2022

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Happy New Year, and welcome to 2022!

I know many of you worked well into the wee hours of New Year’s Eve Day, accounting for year-end contributions, thanking donors and doing everything you could to reach your goal. I hope your 2021 fundraising was a success and you’ve had (or will soon have) an opportunity to have some downtime to relax and recharge. I can’t stress how important this is to your mental health.

Fundraisers are optimistic and resilient by nature. You need to be when dealing with donor rejection (as we like to say in the context of fundraising, a “no” is not always a “no,” sometimes it’s a “not right now”) and keeping focused on the future and fundraising goals—to say nothing of the last two years of the pandemic.

But I know many of you have been dealing with stress, pressure, mental wellness and burnout. These issues have been the top challenges in our recent Fundraising Confidence Surveys, and they’ve been the most identified issues in other nonprofit surveys I’ve seen in Europe and around the world. As I alluded to above, it is very important that we all take the time to recharge and refresh ourselves in ways that work for each of us. For me that means sticking to my workout routines, reading (or listening) to books – fiction and non-fiction – and spending time with my family and friends.

Attitude and optimism are important in any profession, but especially for fundraising. So, I’m going to ask of you four things while you maybe still have a little time to think about the next 12 months. These are some questions I’m asking myself and our staff here at AFP Global as we plan for 2022.

  1. How are you going to view 2022? Look, it’s easy to think of the last two years as a … well, to be charitable, let’s say “dumpster fire.” But it was also a time to adapt, innovate and overcome challenges that we never thought possible. We displayed so much flexibility, resiliency, and compassion. The new year is an opportunity for more of those values to be on display, so let’s approach it in a positive light. Take some time to reflect on what 2022 means for you overall, both professionally and personally. How are you facing and talking about the new year? That’s important.
  2. How are you going to improve professionally this year? I don’t mean what sort of new fundraising programs or campaigns you’re considering, but what sort of skills and knowledge are you going to learn? Before we get lost in the rush of programming and events, take a step back and think about what sort of professional development you want to take this year. Improving ourselves is one way we can help prevent burnout and keep ourselves excited and optimistic about our work and our career. Choose two or three things, make a plan to achieve and learn them, and stick to it!
  3. And speaking of burnout, how are you going to take care of yourself this year? If anything positive has come from the pandemic, working from home and evolving workplaces, it’s that we’re more cognizant of staying healthy—physically, mentally and emotionally. I would encourage you to be even more pro-active about your health this year because your success—in all aspects of your life—depends on your health. Don’t take what you’re doing for granted. Make some goals for the year and again, create a plan to ensure you remain healthy.
  4. Finally, how are you going to interact with your family, friends, groups and communities? We’re human, which means we’re social by nature, and even the most introverted of us need human interaction in some way. Which groups and communities strengthen and inspire you? I’m hoping your AFP community is one such community that reinvigorates you, and I encourage you to become an active part of your local AFP chapter. Think about your other professional and personal communities that matter to you and be sure to stay engaged! AFP ICON Las Vegas in May is a great way that many of your fellow AFP members will come together and get reinvigorated.

We don’t know what 2022 will bring, but what we can control is how we the face the new year and its challenges and opportunities. I am grounded but hopeful, realistic but optimistic, as I think about what’s ahead for the AFP community over the next 12 months, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing everyone (fully vaccinated) at AFP ICON 2022 in Las Vegas, May 2 – 4.

I hope these questions are helpful as you begin to think about your goals for 2022. Take some time for yourself here in January to make your plans, and I hope you have a very successful new year!

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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27 Jun 2022 President's Perspective Blog
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