The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Reclaim Back to School: How to Stay Energized, Relevant, and at the Top of Your Game

Our daughter, Charlotte, recently started sixth grade, and the pumped-up energy at school that first morning really got me thinking.

“Back to school” is one of the definers of fall as we know it. It’s right up there with apples, the changing colors of the leaves, and Halloween.

Here are all these kids marching into the unknown for nine months of learning and growth. Some are thrilled to be starting again, others are longing for the pool or camp, but all have this incredible opportunity to be exposed to new content, to digest it in the context of what they know now, and to arrive on the far side with a fresh perspective and new skills. I’m envious!

Few of us have this kind of formal growth opportunity, but ongoing intellectual and creative growth is vital. It’s the only way to ensure that our marketing and fundraising content is relevant while fueling our personal satisfaction.

My call to action for you and me? Let’s reclaim back to school. Let’s schedule some learning—via conversation, reading, participating—into every day, even if for only five minutes. Learning is energizing, positive, and productive, but you have to make it happen.

Here are the five main methods I use to keep learning:

1. Read and watch content (blogs, e-newsletters, social media, books, videos) in the field, from nonprofits in all sectors, and from expert marketers—in the nonprofit world and beyond—and fundraisers. This helps me keep current on trends, models, needs, tools, and news.

2. Scan the world news, and process how it affects your work and the perspectives of the folks your organization strives to connect with.

3. Participate in hands-on group workshops and webinars, so I’m doing rather than just digesting. For me, the doing reinforces learning like nothing else.

4. Push myself to take on the next new challenge, and make sure there’s always a “next challenge” to tackle. Right now I’m focusing on developing several new training modules and a new small-group online learning program. You may think about how to meet the needs of an underserved part of your community or tackle a new donor segment.

5. Synthesize what I learn with what I know and share that with you in blog posts, e-news articles, speaking gigs, and training. This is the linchpin of my learning program, pushing me to put it all together—for you!

I guarantee I get my learning by scheduling it every day in “ink” on the calendar. This time-blocking approach works wonders for me.

Starting today, reclaim back to school as your own. Schedule time daily to stimulate your mind, nourish your soul, stay on top of the world you’re working in (and communicating into), refine your perspective, and build your expertise and impact—all prerequisites to creating the relevant content and calls to action that best engage the folks whose help you need to move your mission forward!

How do you keep learning even when your professional development budget is zilch? Please share your learning habits and favorite resources in the comments below!

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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