Getting “Un-stuck”

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

It happens to every fundraiser at some point. We get stuck.

Our fundraising plateaus, we sense “donor fatigue,” we feel our programs aren’t inspiring, we see other nonprofits moving farther and faster than us… the list goes on.

When this happens, though, it’s important find a way to move forward – a way to get “un-stuck”. Next time you find yourself up against a motivational wall, try these steps:

  • Know that everyone gets stuck sometimes. Don’t assume that successful leaders have everything figured out. Just like you, they have times where they are in doubt, feel stressed, or lose focus. Their success comes because they know that being stuck is temporary, and they find a way forward.
  • Recognize the signs of being stuck and evaluate why. Are you too busy? Overwhelmed? Lost your passion? This could be caused by a lack of clarity, unrealistic goals, or plain exhaustion.
  • Take time to think. As the game gets bigger, you need to invest more time in thinking and less time in doing. Give yourself the gift of time.
  • Take time to plan. Audit your calendar and clear the decks. Most entrepreneurs find they can say “no” to 80% more than they do. As Greg McKeown wrote in Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, “If it’s not an enthusiastic yes, it’s a definite no.” Secure time on your calendar for “deep work” at least once a week.
  • Take time to rest. Don’t skip vacations. Clarity and innovation occur when you give yourself time to relax. Bill Gates famously took seven-day retreats twice a year to relax and think about the big ideas. On one such retreat in 1995, he predicted the “Internet Tidal Wave” which allowed his company to adapt and dominate new technology.
  • Seek out your mentors. Get a reality check from a friendly mentor who can put things into perspective – and who will be honest with you on any shortcomings.
  • Shake things up. Leave your office, get in the field, participate in a program, meet with a donor, or take a professional development course. A change of scenery, people, or pace may be just the inspiration you need.

I hope this is helpful next time you find yourself “stuck”. It happens to all of us, but your work is too important to let it keep you down!


Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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