Are You Ever Done?

My guess is that right this very minute you have a pile on your desk.  Perhaps it’s even spilled over onto the floor, waiting for you to review something.  You may also have a bunch of unread e-mails and a bunch more that you haven’t put into your neat little Outlook folders yet.  And you might have 5 unheard messages on your phone and get interrupted 10 times today by colleagues needing your urgent help.

Does this sound like you?

I read a blog post from Seth Godin the other day that started me thinking about you.  Your work never ends.  As Seth put it so well:

“For the marketer, the freelancer and the entrepreneur, the challenge is to level set, to be comfortable with the undone, with the cycle of never-ending. We were trained to finish our homework, our peas and our chores. Today, we’re never finished, and that’s okay.”

 He’s right; we are people who like to always finish things.  But as a fundraiser, you know it’s never really finished.  How do you cope with that reality?

I think you can deal with this in one of two ways:

One way would be always striving to “get finished” only to be left frustrated and angry with yourself and others.  Be honest, how much of your stress is actually about not being able to figure out how to get all of your work accomplished?  You rush to finish a proposal while trying to complete a review of a colleague, then realize you have a ton of edits on another proposal you have to get out.  This causes you to snap at people, become grumpy and find yourself in a bad place emotionally.

The other way is to understand, that as a fundraiser, there will always be another donor, another event, another “situation” you will always have to deal with and that it will ALWAYS be that way.  And that is part of the job…knowing that the work never ends.  I think this is what Seth is getting at.  In order for you to ultimately be successful, you have to be comfortable with knowing that not everything is going to get done, that you may not finish all your work…and that it’s all right.  No one is going to die because you didn’t get to everything today…or tomorrow.

For many of you, this is the beginning of a long weekend.  I challenge you to let go of the work and just try to enjoy that time off.  Trust me, the work will be there waiting for you when you return, but you will come back more refreshed for having let it go for a bit.  And it may help you see the work from a new perspective.

I know for myself, when I can do that, I’m much better off.  The problem is that I keep forgetting that until my stress level forces me to take a break.  So the trick is not to let it get to that point.

You’re not going to finish everything.  And, it’s okay.

Enjoy your weekend.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Development Directors, Major Gift Officers, Non-Profits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Are You Ever Done?

  1. Marianne Lynch, CFRE says:

    Thank you for that reminder, Jeff!

  2. Olivia says:

    Truly we are never done and although that can be overwhelming at times, on the flip side, it is a motivator as well knowing that each day there is meaningful work to be done.

  3. Nice. We all need to be reminded of this from time to time. It’s like the old adage: No one wants his/her tombstone to read “Wished I would’ve worked more”.

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