August Challenge

August 2, 2017



Written By: Bruce

By Bruce Berglund

A couple of weeks ago, I took a long hike. I shut off my phone, music, texts and just enjoyed the varied scenery and wildlife that crossed my path. As I turned a corner I saw two trees standing majestically side by side.


One of the trees was full of life and leaves and provided shade, comfort, beauty and a sense of calm for anyone who crossed its path. The other tree, almost identical in size, had once been majestic, but now was essentially dead. No leaves, very little shelter or comfort was offered by this tree.

As I continued my walk, I reflected on which tree best represented me. I’m coming off of a very busy travel season. Am I healthy enough to provide shade, comfort and shelter for those who crossed my path or … am I a “shell” of the tree I aspired to be or once was?

In consulting, fundraising and many other professions we are the cheerleaders, visionaries and strategists responsible for “looking around the corner” for the next market opportunity. When we are leafless these activities are tough and provide little joy.

I want to speak directly to my fundraising friends and colleagues.

Which tree are you? If you find yourself associating with the lifeless tree, let me suggest a few things you can do before fall, before the campaigns start again, before life spins a bit faster and your RPMs approach higher levels.

Take the month of August and try some of the following:

  • Find a good leadership book and read it. Leaders are readers!
  • Find a way to personally thank one donor, every day during August. You will find new joy as you listen to their story. It can be a call, coffee, note or something else. Just make the effort every day.
  • Get out and see your mission in action. Put a “face to your case” and personally fall back in love with what your organization does for your community, your world. Give yourself a vision tour!
  • Set some reasonable physical fitness targets – eat a bit healthier, get some exercise whatever is appropriate for you. Schedule time for a walk, ride, run – and do it.
  • At the end of August, write yourself a letter where you outline your case for support in just a few pages. Not the what you do but why your organization does what it does. What makes you passionate about your organization’s work and impact on your community and the world?

The stakes are too high to settle for a proud past but lifeless present. As you prioritize self-renewal, you will find joy in your work, family, friends and those you serve.

Let’s look back at August 2017 as the month for new growth!

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12 responses to “August Challenge”

  1. Norris Lineweaver says:

    Great writing, Bruce. Practical inspiration, especially for August.

  2. Michael Bodenhausen says:

    That was beautiful and just wanted I needed to hear. Thanks for being that big shady Oak Tree

  3. Bruce Bruce Berglund says:

    Michael- thanks!

  4. John Alexander says:

    Bruce, thanks for the inspiration. I certainly want to remain “leafed out” in my work and influence.

  5. Great advice! We all need an opportunity to recharge and what better way than to thank others and hear their stories.



  6. Kelly Caughlan says:

    As always, great, practical food for thought. Thank you! Just want I needed today.

  7. Paul Cramer says:

    Very insightful comments and thoughts Bruce and as always right on the mark!! Thank you!!

  8. Bruce Bruce Berglund says:

    Thanks Paul!