Do you ever feel like you just can’t keep up?
Like you’re drowning in fundraising information?
Every day, there are new articles to read, videos to watch, and tricks to learn. There are tips to master and checklists to download and use.If you’re like most people, you do the best you can to read the latest stuff so you don’t get left behind as the world passes you by.It’s called information overload and it’s a real problem.
Especially for those of us working in fundraising.
“In the last 30 years, mankind has produced more information than in the previous 5,000.”
This is a statistic from a 1997 Reuters Magazine article entitled, Information Overload Causes Stress. That was years ago, and it’s only getting worse.
My theory is that if you’re a heart-centered fundraiser and you’re passionate about your cause, you want to do the best job you can because you deeply care about the people your nonprofit serves.So you try to stay on top of industry trends and learn all you can.

Except that you can’t. There’s just too much out there.

More isn’t always better.

I bet this has happened to you. It happens to me all the time.

You’re reading something and all of a sudden you realize you have no idea what you just read. Or you’re in a meeting, and you zone out, only to be brought back to life when someone asks you a question, and you have no idea what the discussion has been about.

We’re overfilling our minds with information (especially fundraising info) without allowing ourselves enough time to process and assimilate it. Then we get headaches and feel crappy, and can’t figure out why.

So what can you do? Here are some tips to help you manage your data overload.

  1. Let go of info gluttony. You may be operating with the belief that the more you know, the more money you can raise. While it’s true that you need to sharpen the saw so you can stay sharp, you have to manage the quality and the amount of what goes in. Mediocre advice won’t help you, so become choosy about what you take in.
  2. Focus on what you need to master right now.  There’s no need to read or watch or listen to stuff that doesn’t move you forward NOW. Get clear on the thing you most need help with right now, and only absorb that kind of info. For example, if you’re working on your Fall appeal, then reading a few good articles on what to include or how to clean up your data can be helpful and timely. Once you’ve completed the current project, pick something else to focus on. You’ll be much happier working on one thing at a time.
  3. Jump off the “me too” bandwagon. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you need to do it, too. For example, you may think “everyone” is raising money on Facebook and you need to be there, too, or you’ll miss out. The truth is that you only need to be on Facebook if that’s where your best donors and prospects are hanging out. There’s no need to learn all you can about social media if you have low-hanging fruit somewhere else.
  4. Know when you’ve had enough. Self awareness is a wonderful thing. You need to know when you’ve absorbed all you can. I can manage a couple of hours a day of reading and learning, and after that, I’m toast. I hit a point of diminishing returns, and the time I spend trying to learn more is wasted.

As a society, we’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and tired. We’re trying so hard to keep up, and for many, it’s a losing battle. It impacts our quality of life, our ability to effectively participate in relationships, and our impact on those around us.

It’s time to prioritize what information we consume. It’s time to be choosy about where we get our info. And it’s time to train ourselves to focus on the things that really matter.

So here’s what I suggest:

  • Pick a couple of experts to follow and learn from, and stop following those who don’t consistently give you good stuff. I’m unsubscribing from lots of newsletters right now, because having 50 emails in my inbox every few hours sucks my energy.
  • Become an Energy Guardian for yourself. Notice what pulls you down energetically (like a too-full inbox) and work to eliminate those things.
  • Do those things that fall within your unique brilliance, and stop doing things you aren’t any good at. There’s no point in trying to raise up your areas of weakness. Instead, focus on making your strengths even better, and get help with the stuff you aren’t good at.

Just because there are thousands of articles, videos, and podcasts out there doesn’t mean you need to expose yourself to all of them.

  1. I’ve got 659 emails in my in-box right now. Usually it’s around 140 — manageable for me — but clearly it’s gotten a bit TOO big. Totally can relate! Figuring out how to deal with this right now (probably going to hire help), so your post is timely.

    Hope your headaches go bye-bye for good!

  2. Thank you Sandy! I needed to read this today. I told myself on numerous occasions to stop reading all the fundraising emails that arrive in my inbox, but I have been unwilling to disconnect until now. Reading these words from you (a practical, intelligent, fundraising professional) is just what I needed to read to make myself change my information overload ways!

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