How fundraisers can look after their wellbeing

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In the UK, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. Therefore, it’s so important that we look after our own wellbeing as well as that of our colleagues.

Many charities in the sector rely heavily on fundraising to sustain their services, and look to their fundraisers to hit high (and sometimes unachievable) targets. This results in a high-pressure working environment, which puts fundraisers at risk of poor mental health.

In addition to high targets, fundraisers often contend with frequent restructures, a lack of strategy, working in siloed teams and departments, a lack of resources, outdated technology tools, long hours and low pay compared to the corporate sector. 

Career progression can be difficult and ‘flexible working’ is not always that flexible. Add to this the increasing demand from donors to know exactly how their money supports the charity’s mission, requires new skills for impact measurement and evidence.

There’s a lot at stake and fundraisers can suffer from burnout. But the onus on a fundraiser’s wellbeing should not just be down to them. Whilst everyone should take steps to look after their own wellbeing, it’s the charity’s responsibility to ensure that their staff have wellbeing tools in place and know how they can access them. More importantly, that there is a culture of openness around mental health.

Here are some ways that fundraisers can look after their wellbeing:

Start with your leaders

It’s all very well to talk about wellbeing in the workplace but if it’s just talk and nothing meaningful, it’s simply not going to work. Wellbeing needs to be led from the top. Charity leaders should look to create a wellbeing strategy and then lead by example. 

Impetus, the charity supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, suggests three steps for developing a tailored wellbeing strategy. The first step is to ensure that the strategy really is for everyone and that it supports the people it is supposed to support. The second is to make sure that you can actually deliver the strategy and the third is to acknowledge that the strategy is never done – it’s a living document that needs to be constantly reviewed and updated. 

Create Wellness Action Plans (WAP)

Download a free Wellness Action Plan (WAP) from Mind. The WAP is inspired by Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®), which is an evidence-based system used by people globally to help manage their mental health.

A WAP is a personalised and practical tool that helps people to identify what keeps them well in the workplace and what doesn’t and gives guidance on how to address a mental health problem at work. It includes things such as early warning signs that your manager should look out for, what support you might need, the approaches you will take to support your own wellbeing and more. 

Access free tools 

Claire Warner is a former Fundraising Director and an award-winning workplace Wellbeing Consultant and Management Coach. Claire knows all too well the pressures of being a fundraiser and, as well as her paid services, has created a host of free wellbeing tools for anyone to access.

There’s her All Being Well podcast, which includes topics such as waking rest and wellbeing improvements, as well as her free 5 day SHINE programme, a wellbeing and life balance workbook, a fundraiser survival kit – and more. 

Read the CharityComms Wellbeing Guide 

CharityComms, the membership body for charity professionals working in communication, PR and digital, has a free wellbeing guide. Whilst it’s aimed at comms professionals, it’s really for everyone. 

Inside you’ll find case studies from charities on how they deal with difficult situations and their wellbeing tips. There are also techniques from wellbeing professionals to help build personal resilience, as well as advice from charities such as the Samaritans on how to use a Listening Wheel for difficult conversations. 

As well as this practical guide, they also have a wellbeing series on their CharityComms podcast. Episodes include, ‘Leading wellbeing from the top’ and ‘The power of talking and building health mindsets.’

As Claire Warner says, ‘If we are not careful, we’ll be so busy changing the world for others, we’ll forget to carve a bit for ourselves’.

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