The antidote to anxiety

From hurricanes and climate change to Kim Jong-un and the policy proposals coming from Washington to the endless war on terror, it can seem like nothing good is happening and we're powerless to do anything about it.

As I mentioned in my email last week (you are reading my emails every week, right?), this sense of dread that bad things are happening is how your organizational supporters are feeling as well. You need to understand this if you want to be successful.

You also need to understand that this feeling actually has more to do with how we're wired than an objective reality we’re facing in the world.

When I started working in the start-up technology business back in the early days of the internet, a colleague of mine said to me, "Michael, this business stuff is 90% psychology." What he meant was that in everything we do, we are dealing with human beings, and human beings can't help but feel certain ways. Luckily, these ways of humans are predictable and can be navigated to achieve the outcomes you want. (And if you understand these ways, you can usually manage your own anxieties too!)

When you have 24-hour news cycles, always-on cell phones, and social networks telling you about the latest, terrible thing happening, it is natural to feel anxious and out of sorts.

However, when we take a step back and look objectively, it's actually never been better to be a human on earth. There is an immense amount of statistical evidence that life is better than ever. Even in times of hardship we see progress. Think about this... when has it ever been possible in human history to follow a hurricane's progress for a week before it gets anywhere near you and have instant communications to manage the aftermath? Right now!

Of course there are serious issues like those mentioned above. But here's a not-so-secret about your donors: they don't need you to make them depressed. They get enough of that from CNN. They need you to build them up and show them that things can actually get better when we act.

Your donors have the power to turn things around. You have to show them the need -- the problem you need them to solve -- otherwise, why are they necessary? Pivot your fundraising away from the idea that your donors exist to help you and your organization. Instead, internalize the idea that you exist to guide your supporters to find their own power to change the world, and you'll unleash more resources than you ever thought possible.

Author: Michael Hoffman
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