Andrew Rogers, Creative Director  ●  1/18/2023

4 Tips for Keeping Your Head in Crazy Times





Rudyard Kipling is, for good reason, not the most popular of poets anymore. But lately, I keep recalling the first lines of his 1890s poem, “If.”

“If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs …”

We’re all used to the holidays raising our stress levels, but is the start of a new year really that much easier? For fundraisers, this is compounded this year by the importance of renewal campaigns, ongoing supply chain and production issues, the self-immolation of a major social media channel, and all those other things that have us already counting the weeks until our summer vacations.

Here are a few ideas for how you can keep your head while all around you folks are losing theirs.



1. Disconnect.

Mental health experts have been telling us for years to take time away from devices and digital media, but the nature of reality in 2023 makes that hard to do — particularly when we’re responsible for our clients’ online presence. Still, it’s worth making the attempt. Close the lid on the laptop, silence or turn off the phone, step away from the monitor, pull out the earbuds, and make a physical break from the online world. Take some deep breaths and remember that you’re more than a node on a network.


2. Pour your energy into something else.

Believe me, I get that sometimes you just need to crash on the couch. But one of Winston Churchill’s maxims was, “A change is as good as a rest.” During the most challenging time of his political life, a friend advised him to take up oil painting. He was nervous at first, but quickly discovered he loved it and, with practice, became good at it. Even during the war, as he traveled to confer with other world leaders, he would pack his easel and paints and take time to work on a landscape or two. For Churchill, painting wasn’t just a distraction. It was a completely different activity to which he could devote his considerable mental and physical energy, and emerge rejuvenated. Do you have something like that?


3. Remember why we do what we do.

No shade to our friends in commercial marketing, but it’s no secret many of us in nonprofit marketing and fundraising draw a special satisfaction and strength from the fact that the work we do — and the causes we help advance — really are making the world a better place. But even we can lose sight of that when chaos, stress, and negative energy are swirling. I try to take time to think about each of my clients, individually, and the difference they are making in the world with my and my colleagues’ help. That helps keep things in perspective.

4. Have a little grace.

I didn’t quote the complete first line of Kipling’s poem. Here’s how it actually goes:

“If you can keep your head when all about you   
     Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, …”

Those five extra words sting, don’t they? Few things magnify stress quite like someone saying the chaos they’re drowning in is your fault — particularly when it’s not true! I can feel my shoulders tensing as I write this. At times like that, I try to draw on my background as a writer and remember the importance of the stories we tell in fundraising. I remind myself that every person has a unique story — their own challenges and terrors, their own dreams and longings, their own history and internal monologue. I only know part of their story, just as they only know part of mine. Admittedly, it doesn’t always make the feeling of injustice go away, but — especially as we set off together into a new year — it might just increase the amount of grace and peace in the world a little bit.



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