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Archive for the ‘personal growth’ Category

If you are a busy volunteer and trying to find balance in your life, it can be difficult. It may not seem as if you have enough hours in your day to get your “work” done, let alone find time to relax and de-stress. And what about friends, family, your children? Overworking and not achieving a healthy balance can be extremely tiring, not to mention, draining. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Turn off those devices

Being connected 24/7 can be tiring in itself. When did you last switch your phone off so you could do something uninterrupted? Those constant notifications and pings can distract your thought processes and your relaxation. Turning them off will allow you to enjoy the moment – even better when you are spending it with those you love. Give them 100% of your attention without the need to check your device constantly. Everyone will benefit because of it.

Everything does not have to be perfect

We are always surrounded by perfectionism – on television, in magazines and in the books we read. But keeping up with those standards of measurements can be difficult. Life is complicated and busy for a start! So if you have to let things slide for the sake of your sanity, then do it. Leave the dishes until tomorrow. Clean the bathroom in a day or two. Whatever you need to put off, it is truly okay. It will still be there tomorrow (unless someone kindly volunteers to do it for you!)

Schedule in exercise

Exercise is one of those things that we constantly tell ourselves we will do later. But the truth is, there is always an opportunity to exercise; we just need to make it a priority in our life. If you have time to sit down and watch a television program, then you have time to commit to a short exercise schedule a couple of occasions a week. Whether you enjoy yoga, want to job, go for a walk, or cycle, then schedule it in. It will not only make you feel less stressed about your busy lifestyle, but it will also improve your energy to get you through the day.

Take it one step at a time

Marathon runners don’t get to where they are without attempting small runs first. It is the same with making any changes in your life. You don’t aim to lose 20 pounds in a week and nor do you try to find 3 hours of “me time” in one go. Take it slowly and snatch moments here and there. Once you begin to see that giving yourself permission is kind, not selfish, then you will be keener to make changes, so it happens on a regular basis. Like exercise, scheduling it into your daily movements will help.

Create boundaries

It is not acceptable for people to call you at 11 pm or 7 am. It is not acceptable when you are asked to forego your lunch break to help out in the office. Create boundaries so people know when you are available – anything else can wait until you are available. Unexpected things happen regularly in life and the office, but your time is sacred and needs to be respected as well. If you don’t want to be interrupted, then turn your phone off and shut the door. People will soon understand when you are open to conversations or wish to discuss their requirements. Saying no is something you have to get used to saying more often.

Plan your holidays in advance

Plan your holidays in advance, so it gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be an all-expenses paid cruise to unwind. Even a staycation (a holiday at home away from work or volunteering) can be great for the mind and body if you plan it right. Once you know your dates, then you can delegate as necessary. That will give time for a volunteer to step up to take on your responsibilities. And don’t forget if you do plan to go away, arrange for someone to water your plants and check on your home, to give you one less thing to have to worry about.

Join a group

While joining another group when you are time limited sounds counter-productive, it can do your mind a world of good. It allows you to concentrate on something else other than volunteering or the mundane chores at home. It also provides you with an avenue where you can spend time talking about something you like with other like-minded individuals. Do you have a hobby or wish to take one up? This is your chance to join a group and expand your knowledge.

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Lacking in fundraising ideas, especially when you have a lot on your plate is particularly common. But continued stress and anxiety can lead to burnout which makes coming up with fresh ideas on a regular basis problematic.

So, how can you tell you are at risk of burnout?

The smallest things can annoy you

Do you notice you have a short fuse? Is your nonprofit team rubbing you up the wrong way? Then you might well be on the way to suffering from burnout. There are annoyances, and there are annoyances, but if even the smallest of issues is causing a lot of frustration, it is time to take a step back. If not rectified, a serious argument over literally nothing will ensue. Go for a walk, take a nap or even schedule some leave before this little problem generates into a huge one.

You are tired all day every day

If you are feeling tired, all day, every day then you could be facings signs of burnout. Exhaustion is a symptom which can often accompany anxiety, and it can all add up to the fact that you need complete rest and a break from work. Take care of yourself, sleep well, eat healthily and exercise regularly. Caring for yourself or even asking for help will go a long way to aiding your recovery. If exhaustion continues, you may find that one day you can barely get out of bed at all.

Failure to concentrate on the task at hand

When you are overworked and overly emotional, it can negatively affect your concentration in the office. You may find you are more forgetful than usual or you just are unable to focus on the task in front of you. Make sure you take your lunch breaks and stand up and stretch every hour. Movement can help you clear your mind, especially when you have been sitting down for an extended period. Even a 20-minute walk can improve your ability to concentrate.

You are consistently putting in long hours

There are times when you may find that longer hours are necessary and that’s okay. But if you find you are continuously putting in the long hours, then you will soon find yourself overworked and very tired. While you may use up some of your time on the weekend to plan strategies or research donors, doing it often and on a regular basis can take a toll on your overall well-being. Take a break when you can and learn to say no more often. Working overtime will just make you feel more tired and have a negative effect on your productivity in the long-term.

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Being a volunteer treasurer can be a huge responsibility, and during your most busy periods, you may find yourself struggling with the workload. Being able to manage your time efficiently becomes more important than ever, especially when you have finance issues and reports looming.

Here are some tips and tricks we garnered from other volunteer treasurers.

Skip the occasional meeting

While some meetings are important for you to attend, some meetings can be dealt with by a treasurer representative. Send someone on your behalf so you can catch up with your workload. They can then report back with anything that needs actioning.

Work from home

If you face a long commute or are juggling the hours between work and home, perhaps there are tasks which can be carried out at home. If you can access your finances on the cloud, then you may find that a lot of your workload can be handled directly from your home office.

Schedule your day

Without a set schedule, you have more chance of your time getting away from you. Plan to do specific tasks at set times. Check all emails first thing in the morning and then don’t check again until later in the day.

Work an early morning shift to get stuff done

If you can, plan for early morning periods where you can work uninterrupted. You may be surprised at just how much work you can get done at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Try not to make a habit of it, of course, but a few hours of working alone can do wonders for your overall schedule.

Rely on help from others

In truth, you cannot do it all. That is where colleagues and volunteers can come in handy. Seek help from quality staff who are as dedicated to the task as you are and who can help clear some tasks from your inbox. Delegate every opportunity you get.

Say no if necessary

It is important that you say no to some of the many requests that land on your desk. Just like you don’t have to attend every meeting, you also don’t have to go to every luncheon or do every bit of research that is asked of you. Prioritise your personal tasks, so you don’t stretch yourself too thinly.

Set time limits for volunteers

Volunteers may have issues and wish to discuss their problems with you. Let them know at the beginning of the meeting that you can only spare 5 or 10 minutes and keep to that time limit. Meetings can easily overrun and take up the majority of your office time.

Remember, it is your time. Being firm with your time limits and sticking to your main responsibilities is in your best interests. It will allow you to manage your workload more effectively and minimise the number of hours you work overtime.

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apple-desk-laptop-workingContinual learning and education are important regardless of what your role entails. It enables you to push and motivate yourself so you can engage more fully in your position, non-profit or otherwise.

Education, in any form, is vital to both your personal and professional life and can help in your future success stories. Showing an eagerness to learn and ability to increase your knowledge is very exciting to many employees and NFPs.

Did you know that there are many free educational opportunities out there? And did you know many of these are suitable for volunteer treasurers and NFPs?

Each year, NFP advocates and individuals offer free webinars on subjects specifically relevant to charities and not for profits. They can be a valuable source of information, particularly when they impart knowledge that can have enormous benefits to your organisation.

Learning from others who have gone before you is a great asset to your career path. Why make mistakes which can affect your fundraising ability or cost your NFP money when you can follow the advice of other fundraisers and charity workers? And as much of the work you do is relevant only to the NFP niche, it makes it even more advantageous to take advantage of these offers when they appear.

So what’s in store for January? Here are a handful of exciting webinars to get you started. Bear in mind that many webinars are offered live rather than as a recording, so you may need to set a reminder in order that you don’t miss these and other similar events.

The 7 Fundamentals of a Monthly Giving Program – January 12, 2017

In this 30 minute webinar, you will learn how to recognise monthly donors, how to set your ask amounts, how to present results and how to plan for growth.

10 Signs Your NGO Excels at Social Media – January 18, 2017

This live webinar will show real case examples of how to use images and video to increase engagement, how to inspire your donors to give as a result of social media and how to format online news and blog content for maximum effectiveness.

Finding New Donors for 2017 – January 18, 2017

This webinar will take you through new places to find donors, how to build your email list, cultivation tips to keep your existing donors and fast ways to thank your donors.

As technology changes and develops, so does the demands of fundraising and financial management. Keeping up to date with this ever-changing technology is more important than you think, especially since many of the areas are becoming more mobile in their capabilities.

New information is always relevant to fulfilling your role adequately. Familiarise yourself with NFP-related websites and mark your calendar with the many relevant webinars which will come your way in 2017 and beyond.

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pexels-photo-261577Working or volunteering at an NFP can be a time-consuming task. It can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get through the to-do list, let alone come up with creative ideas for fundraising activities. So what can you do to make the most of your volunteer hours?

Create a workable system

You will need to come up with a system so you can use the time you have to the best of your advantage. Organise everything so you can find it quickly; make lists, create folders, manage a diary – whatever works for your particular job or project. The better organised you are, the easier it will be to manage your time effectively.

Stop procrastinating

Often when things get busy, it is easy to spend time worrying about the mountain of paperwork or the number of items on the to-do list. The trick is to tackle them one at a time. Cross an item off the list and move on to the next one. Don’t spend your energy worrying about things – just do what needs to be done when you have the time.

Work from home where necessary

Sometimes working from home is in your best interests when you have a long or complex task to do. It can mean you can work on it in your own time without interruption, reporting back to the office as necessary. It may not work for all projects, but it could help when you are time limited and could save on much travel time between locations.

Break projects down into mini-tasks

If you are overseeing a big project, then it is often easier to bring things down into workable chunks. Plan your day so you can work on one project to completion. Then move onto something else and repeat. This will take much of the stress and overwhelm out of the work day and minimise time wastage from switching from task to task.

Avoid checking emails and messages first thing

Emails and messages can cut into your day. Try to get out of the habit of checking your emails as soon as you arrive at the office. Start working on your to-do list and save the message checking until mid-morning or mid-afternoon when you feel like you need a break. Add an automatic reply which states you will respond within a 24 hour period, so you don’t feel rushed to answer immediately.

Give yourself a break

You are only human, and you cannot do it all TODAY. Burnout will be no good for you or the NFP you are volunteering for. Do what you can, when you can and be happy with that. And if the NFP is struggling to get through the tasks set, then it may be time for them to look for an extra pair of hands to help you out. While challenging work is good for the soul, self-sacrifice will do you no good at all.

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sport-1014015_640Whether or not your charity or association is involved in sports or some other athletic endeavour, there may come a time when you become involved in recruiting for your NFP. After all, even NFPs that don’t host actual teams often host sports events as part of their fundraising and other activities.

For your nonprofit to do well in competitive events, it’s important to find and recruit individuals with just the right mix of skills, talents and experience. Hopefully, you will be able to find someone that has “what it takes” to be able to quickly catch on and score for your side.

Is it Possible to Tell Who Has the Right Stuff at Just a Glance?

When scouting for the ideal recruit for your team, it’s normal to want to find someone that you believe will just be naturally great. It’s difficult to tell just on the surface of things, however, if someone has just the “right stuff,” to make them great at a specific position on a team, especially if they’ve never even previously played the game.

When it comes to being “great” at something, which do you think matters more when it comes time to perform specific tasks? Is it more important to relentlessly train and study your whole life, or are the genes that you are born with important as well?

Genes, Experience or Both?

According to a recent ASAP Science Video, it takes a combination of both natural born talent, and training to become a truly great athlete. According to information in the video, regardless of what type of physical endeavour was being measured, those who have the potential to become great at a particular sport tend to be born with traits that make them more likely to be high responders.

A high responder is someone that is genetically more likely to respond positively to training and physical conditioning, and over 50% of improvement that folks experience when they train comes down to their genetics. People that are high responders are more likely to experience greater growth and endurance regardless of how physically fit they might be before they begin training.

Research also shows that each of us also has a different baseline of relative physical ability and endurance before we even start training. A different set of genes is responsible for this trait.  This means that individuals can be either a high responder and have a faster, better response to training, or they can naturally have a higher baseline. Sometimes, individuals have the genes for both of these traits.

How Personal Leadership Impacts Both Genes and Training

Therefore it’s likely that the best athletes already have great genes that predispose them to improved athletic ability. These naturally athletic individuals are then able to further increase their results by additional training and conditioning. Rather than favouring one over the other, it appears that talent is, to some extent, trainable.

Success isn’t just genes and training, however. Ideally, you should seek recruits that exhibit a high potential for ability and talent, that also show personal responsibility. Without personal leadership, it’s impossible to stay motivated to stick with a training regimen. Without determination and accountability, athletes eventually neglect training and fail to improve their natural gifts and abilities and transform their talent into actual greatness.

While the studies looked at athletic ability, it’s likely that having the right mix of talent, training and determination also applies to other endeavours and areas of our lives. So, whether you are looking for your club’s next goalie or, need to hire someone to be an effective fundraiser, if you want to recruit someone for your team that’s likely to be great, look at that person’s record of personal responsibility and determination in addition to their talents and experiences.

The Perfect Recruit Leads

Being responsible and self-motivated, constantly pushing, and training, towards excellence, are the key traits upon which other leadership skills are based. Whether it’s the ball field or the board room, there is a genuine need to find and recruit more leaders to turn natural ability and effort into greatness.  Want a great player, volunteer or staff member for your NFP’s team on and off the field? Look for those who are already leading themselves, and others, to greatness in other areas of their lives.

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fashion-person-woman-handEach and every one of us, whether we realise it or not, has a set of values instilled in our lives. These values determine our beliefs and actions as we go about life, and even affect the decisions we make, like the jobs we do, and where and how we live.

Which is precisely why knowing your values can help to reduce the stress in your life. To be clear, it’s not going to stop stressful things from happening, however having this understanding can provide you with a perspective and even a reason as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.

In fact, this is the main reason that awareness of values is important for stress reduction. Without understanding, even at a very high level, why you do what you do can leave you feeling as though you’re floating through life, without any real direction or purpose. Thus, when the going gets tough, or the day goes off the rails, this feeling of having no purpose can be amplified.

Just for a moment, have a good hard think about what you do during your day, the activities you undertake and the people you are working with, or for. If you have a job, think carefully about why you work in the field or industry you work in.

If you’re studying, why did you choose that particular subject or course? If you volunteer in any capacity, what is it that motivated you to put your hand up?

You may come up with words like “care”, or “wanting to help others”. It may be that you don’t like the way the industry is currently going, and you want to contribute to make it more professional or sustainable or ethical. Maybe you do like the way it’s going and want to be a part of it, and love the innovation or forward thinking it displays.

There are a hundred and more words that you can choose from to define your values, but you will find, if you think carefully, a handful that really define yours. What you do in your daily life, what drives you and inspires you will help to guide you.

Once you have some clarity around these values; be it truth and integrity, care and compassion, sustainability and ethics, or adventure and fun (or any of a hundred more values), you gain immediate reason and direction when life, or the day, does go off the rails.

It can remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing, and give you a point of reference on which to focus, or continue to focus as you look to getting back on track. It is akin to have a cause you care about, or a difference you want to make, and in some cases, it’s exactly the same thing.

When you have a focal point, and a way to scale the hurdles and navigate your way back to your path, you’ll find that stress is considerably reduced. You’re no longer wafting about in an ocean, unsure of where you’re headed, and worrying about how to get back.

Instead, you are able to remind yourself of your purpose, and the good you are doing for others throughout your day.

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