Stephen Cotterill: Fundraisers' wellbeing is everybody's business

08 Jun 2020 Voices

The approach to dealing with issues of wellbeing in the sector needs to shift from the individual to the collective.

Over the last few decades, the emphasis for physical and mental wellbeing has been on self help and self development. This has continued to be part of the narrative over recent weeks during lockdown with many people furloughed – a time often billed as being for reflection and personal betterment. This approach is fine to an extent, but an unfortunate by-product has been an over reliance on self and a disproportionate sense of individual responsibility for your own wellbeing and mental health. This is particularly true in fundraising, where unrealistic targets, shifting goals and expectations, and a lack of appreciation within the organisation can heighten pressures on an individual.

There are many startling statistics from the survey we have highlighted in the cover feature of this issue. Some of the topline figures graphically reinforce problems that have been bubbling just under the surface for years. But the real value lies in how the research drills down into the causes and addresses the underlying health of the workforce, rather than simply highlighting the symptoms.

One key theme that repeatedly emerged in the over 700 responses which the survey received was that the onus has been too heavily weighted towards the individual when it comes to having absolute responsibility for their own state of mind. The burden placed on the employee to internalise or mask their emotional and mental fragility seems to be a common experience and one which should cause the leaders in the sector to take pause and ask themselves whether they genuinely know how well their teams are coping, especially now.

When putting the feature together, the author was very keen to stress that the overwhelming call to action is for the sector collectively to take responsibility for the wellbeing of its workforce. Leaders need to constantly be mindful of the pressures fundraisers find themselves under and the burden they can place on themselves when trying to secure income for the causes they care about.

Ultimately, team managers need to ask themselves: “How well are my fundraisers?”


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