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Staying Motivated: Maintaining Positivity and Passion

Carrot on a stickSo it’s mid way through the year and sometimes, for those of us working in the charity sector, this is as busy time as any. End of financial year appeals, annual report, audits, and if you’re most parts of Australia, we’ve got to deal with the chilly winter too. How can we stay motivated? How can we remain interested and passionate about what we do? All year round, year after year? Well, I decided to ask someone who has been in the non-profit sector for more than a decade, and all with the same charity!

Madeleine Buchner is only 23 years old, so it may seem strange to ask someone so young how they stay motivated when they’re only just starting out. No, not Madeleine! She has been working in the charity sector since she was nine years old (yep, you read that right – nine years old!) when she founded a small non-profit called Little Dreamers. 14 years on, she is still leading this growing charity through change and making an incredible difference in the lives of young carers. Here is what Madeleine had to say about how she stays motivated:

MB linked in pic

23 year old Madeleine

14 years is a long time to be working on one cause; with one mission and one plan – to change the world for young people who are put into the position of caring for an unwell family member. Usually, when people realise that I have been doing this for over half of my life they ask me, “How do you stay motivated? How do you stay positive?” I often start off by saying that it takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.

So here are my three tips for staying motivated, positive and especially passionate about your cause and your mission in life.

1. When deciding on a new goal note down the reason you want to achieve it.

I am the queen of lists – I have lists about everything and I have them everywhere. When I set a new goal that is particularly important to me, I write it on a sticky note and put it next to my mirror. Along with the actual goal, on the back of my sticky note I write why I really want to achieve this goal (e.g. what it would mean to me or to someone else if this was achieved!).

When things get stressful or I think that there aren’t enough hours in the day I can go back and look at my sticky note to remind myself that there is a reason I am doing what I am. Remember – we all have the same number of hours in our day as Beyoncé!

2. Make your goals public to people who are close to you

Madeleine and her best friend

They say that when you tell someone you’re going to lose weight or quit smoking, the pressure of someone else knowing you might fail is a great motivating factor. I use the same principle when setting goals. By telling my Mum or my very nosy and pushy best friend (J) about my goals they are able to encourage me when I am falling behind.

For me, the worst feeling is when my best friend asks me how I am going with a certain task and I say I haven’t finished it yet – the look she gives me could make angels cry.

3. Have an awesome pump up playlist for when things really are getting you down

My guilty pleasure is country music – I’m talking Jake Owen, Luke Bryan…good southern American country. The music genre is different for everyone but listening to music that you enjoy causes the brain to release dopamine, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Give it time; scientists say that only it takes 15 minutes of listening to music until the dopamine is spread within the blood stream.

My favourite pump up song of the moment is ‘Rain is a Good Thing’ by Luke Bryan. You can check it out here if you like!

When things are too much I go back to the basics – I remember that I do what I do to change lives. To stay inspired I often remind myself of Margaret Mead’s quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.


Thanks Madeleine, there are some really useful tips in there about staying motivated. If you have any other tips, why don’t you share them below in the comments.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

P.S We first featured Madeleine and Little Dreamers on our blog over two years ago. You can read more about this wonderful organisation in that post here.


Thank You Thursday: Knowing and Teaching

KOTO is a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. It’s name, KOTO, stands for know one, teach one and is based on the idea that learning should be passed on and knowledge is meant to be shared. Not too dissimilar from our own principle here behind Fish.
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Thank You Thursday: Easy as One, Two, Three

The ‘Take 3‘ message is simple: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you
leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere, and you have made a difference.

Living near the beach I often see people picking up rubbish with the council organising regular beach cleanup days, which is great. I live near a popular beach though. One that is frequented by tourists and is lucky enough to be kept pretty nice. The Take 3 concept can easily be used at any beach you are visiting and with no organisation required. Simply pick up three pieces of rubbish when you’re leaving. It couldn’t be easier to make a difference to the environment.

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More of Your Most Important Fundraising Tool

Last month we shared with you some important details about your Case for Support – every charity’s most important fundraising tool; what is was and why it was such a vital part of successful fundraising.

Now, we are going to get into the nitty gritty of exactly what you should include in your Case and how to make sure the one you write is inspiring.

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Thank You Thursday: A Wheely Good Idea

With the Tour de France happening this month, we thought it would be fitting to turn our focus to a social enterprise that is all about bikes and cycling. Good Cycles is a non-profit business located in Melbourne that provides mobile bike mechanics who come and repair your bike while you’re at work, university or even on the bike path; saving you time and even money, through group discounts.

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Branding or Fundraising? What comes first?

More than ever before, brands are crucial to the success of a business, whether it be a for-profit or a not-for-profit. And in the competitive charity sector that we have now in Australia, your cause needs to differentiate itself from others. You need to stand out. Your brand can help you achieve this.

That’s why charities need to do both fundraising and brand-building activities to flourish. Both elements are equally important for non-profit success, but you can’t fundraise without people knowing who you are, and you can’t build brand awareness without any funds.

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Finding the Golden Egg

Bequests, planned giving, legacies, gift in Will… so many different names but it all means one thing – when a supporter leaves a donation to the cause of their choice in their Will.

Bequests can sometimes mean a lot of money (the average bequest in Australia is about $70,000) and often untied funds that can be used for vital infrastructure growth and essential projects. While for many non profits it is a major source of income, it is also one of the more sensitive and challenging forms of fundraising. A common misconception is that you need a large amount of resources put in this area for it to be successful.

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