Fundraising is an incredible place to test yourself as a yogi. The amount of magnetism involved in attracting resources to an organization, and the ability to relate to every type of person, inside and outside the nonprofit, is just not possible if you don’t find ways to bring joy into your work and hold out hope for a brighter tomorrow.
In this field, it is your great honor and responsibility to engage the outside world in the mission and work of your organization. It’s like being a two-way-radio, but with additional translation and negotiation features. If a donor is upset by a financial report, it is your duty to address their concerns. If your program staff wants to create a meaningful new project, it is your duty to find a willing soul (or many) to fund it. This can be an extremely challenging process.
I’ve often seen that fundraisers who burn out have let the joy of work extinguish like a candle in a windstorm; they have not found a way to sustain joy in the face of stress. This is where living yoga has made all the difference in the world for me.
When faced with a huge challenge, be it a daunting capital campaign, an organizational culture that works at odds with your mission, a person determined to be a road block to your project, I have drawn on the wisdom and tools of yoga to sustain or reignite my inner joy.
It’s all about attitude…your attitude.
To begin, remind yourself that: 1) Everyone wants to be happy, at their core. 2) Everyone working in or supporting your nonprofit believes in the same mission. 3) Everyone wants their contribution to be meaningful.
I have found it extremely helpful to remember the simple truths above, then take a deep breath, and bring in your own right attitudes: patience, compassion and relentless optimism. Each of these three attitudes are crucial to a yogi and a fundraiser…and, let’s face it, to anyone who wants to find fulfillment through work.
Patience, compassion, and relentless optimism will drive success:
- Patience in the process of unfolding change. Change does not happen overnight. As my friend who climbed Mount Everest once said to me, “You climb a great mountain one step at a time.”
- Compassion for all involved, which allows us to see the perspective of others and find the best solution, rather than the one our ego wants.
- Relentless optimism, meaning the imagination to visualize success and hold space for it, even in the face of daunting odds.
These attitudes are the secret keys of success. By applying them in the workplace, I have observed the complete turn around of two major nonprofit organizations, not to mention several departments, and even more individuals.
To unpack and understand right attitude at work will take more than a single blog post. But for now, let’s focus on a few examples:
- Try showing up for work with a genuine smile on your face as much as possible.
- Use the tools of meditation and yoga to learn to tune into the movement of energy toward a goal, rather than the rigid milestones that the ego wants to set.
- Experiment and find ways to draw on people’s most benevolent nature, this will bring about the best possible outcome.
How can this dogged optimism be developed? Well, yoga of course! Not just a nice asana practice, which certainly does support all three of these attitudes, but a practice of the yoga of life. Finding joy in the silence of meditation, in the challenge of postures, in the energy all around you and, most importantly, in your heart.
May you find great fulfillment in your work.