There is little doubt that 2019 will be an interesting year. And by “interesting,” I mean turbulent.  It’s already off to an unpredictable start with so much uncertainty in the financial markets and across the political landscape.  Those of us in the fundraising world are eager, if not anxious, to know how year-end giving actually fared and whether or not donations took a hit from the previous year’s level.  But a more important concern for all of us is how vulnerable philanthropy may become in 2019 and beyond as we face continued challenges and evolving norms in nearly all realms.

I am an optimist by nature, as are most of the individuals I know who have chosen to work in the advancement profession. How else could we market our causes with conviction if we didn’t convey hope and positivity to our prospective donors?  That said, navigating 2019 will require more than having a rosy outlook.  A commitment to a more deliberate mindset is needed, one that embraces change while doubling down on the core values and proven practices that have served our industry so well.  As I have pondered how to confront the year ahead, I have adopted four resolutions that I hope will guide me in my efforts:

  1. Engage more effectively. Engagement is a two-way exchange. While I certainly want to advance my causes, promote my organization, and forward my solutions, I also want to more fully understand what is on the minds of donors, friends and family. I resolve to up my listening skills to new levels to be more in tune with my constituents and customers.
  2. Learn new things. Technology is changing, ideas are flowing, lines are blurring, and new patterns are trending. Keeping pace amidst the constant noise requires dedicating time to learn. I resolve to acquaint myself with four areas unfamiliar to me now but that could prove important for innovating our profession in the future.
  3. Speak more loudly. Our profession has much to boast about in the way of impact and service to society. Our organizations educate our children, heal the sick, provide basic needs, protect our environment, and a lot more. I resolve to be a stronger voice in advocating for our missions and promoting our industry more widely.
  4. Steward relationships better. Receiving a “thank you” still means the world to donors, volunteers, colleagues, and, indeed, most humans. Yet we sometimes forget to pause and do this easy task. I resolve to find ways (and time) to express my gratitude to those around me who make our fundraising work so successful and enjoyable.

Who knows what will happen in 2019! And you may have already thought of resolutions you would add to this list based on your own predictions.  I’ll be keeping a checklist on my progress throughout the year.  But one thing is for sure, 2019 won’t be business as usual for anyone; the work will be harder as we learn to cope with turbulence and change, but possibly more gratifying than ever as we celebrate what can be possible.  And hopefully, resolving to be more resolute will help.