UPDATE: Why Fundraising is Like a Work Out

April 16, 2021

A little over three years ago, I wrote an article pointing out the similarities between fundraising and working out (here). The premise was that you could work out using full effort for a short while and then take a break. In the end, it will make you much more efficient.

Judging by the work-from-home lives that so many of us have lived for the past 14 months, this analogy still is valid. When you are building your muscles, you try to do some high-intensity interval training. This involves giving maximum effort, followed by a short rest. It is analogous to writing a substantive proposal for funding in the fundraising world and them going out for a (socially distanced) walk.

Employers these days are well aware that our collective mental health is in jeopardy. The lines between home life and work-life are becoming more and more blurred. I actually was emailing one of my lawyers at 8.30 in the evening! So, while employees respond to work issues on their ‘personal time,’ the balance must swing the other way and allow personal time during work hours.


At the end of the day, it comes down to trust. I have seen many supervisors who do not trust their teams to work effectively by remote. I have even heard of an organization where one of the senior management called staff members at random times between 9.00 and 5.00 to see if they answered the phone! That is grotesque. The bottom line is that if you don’t trust the staff member, put them out of their misery (I am sure they are miserable) and go your separate ways.

Trust is one of the most important factors for success in fundraising. Trust from your donors and trust from the program delivery people. If your leadership style is so authoritarian in nature that you cannot trust the people you work with to complete the task, you are likely in the wrong position. I agree that trust is earned, but I would suggest that those that work for charities are there to make the world a better place. Start from the position that everybody is doing their best until you are proven wrong.

And, just like working out, fundraising can be exhausting at times. But, in the end, you feel better about life.

Until next week,