Apr 2, 2021

How to Fight Burnout as a Nonprofit Professional

A 2018 Gallup study found that nearly two-thirds of full-time employees have experienced burnout. Nonprofit professionals especially feel this around year-end, but burnout can happen at any time!

Don’t let the effects of burnout sneak up on you and keep you from your mission. Keep reading to know how to recognize and fight burnout: 

  • How burnout is impacting nonprofit professionals
  • Warning signs and symptoms of burnout
  • Game-changing ways nonprofit pros can overcome burnout

Nonprofit Professionals Are No Stranger To Burnout

At 19%, the nonprofit sector experiences some of the highest employee turnover rates, well above the 12% industry average. Some say the turnover rate is even higher among demanding, fast-paced, and high-pressure fund development positions.

This needs to be addressed! Otherwise, 45% of nonprofit employees will be looking for new jobs by 2025.

Warning Signs and Symptoms Of Burnout

The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Signs of burnout from working in the nonprofit sector include:

  • Feelings of chronic exhaustion and fatigue—even after getting some rest
  • General negativity toward work
  • Dreading going into work
  • Lacking passion and enthusiasm for your organization’s mission
  • Decreased professional efficiency (e.g., working slowly, less creative ideas)
  • Lacking the motivation to work
  • Working on autopilot (e.g., doing the exact same fundraising plan as last year)
  • Stress and anxiety while working and thinking about work

If any of this resonates with you, take heart! There are plenty of ways nonprofit professionals can successfully reduce stress and fight burnout.

Game-Changing Ways World-Changers Can Fight Burnout

Advocate For Employee Wellness

The quickest and most effective way nonprofit organizations can help their staff members fight burnout is by providing employee wellness benefits. This is so much more than just giving out free passes to yoga classes. Employees need the investment of long-term services that improve their work-life balance. 

Depending on the unique needs of your organization, this may look something like paying for bus cards for transportation, providing or delivering a healthy breakfast once a week, offering flexible work hours and remote staff work options, giving mental health days (including counseling services in healthcare plans), or stepping up paid time off.

Know When To Step Back

It may seem like your charity’s work is too important to step back from. After all, you are saving the world! But if you don’t, you’re actually damaging your long-term effectiveness to make an impact. 

There is no shame or weakness in needing a little bit of time away to rest and recover—even if you need to step back during a busy fundraising season. Your donor relationships will thank you for it. Make it a part of your workplace culture to advocate for boundaries and encourage time off to avoid burnout.

Learn to Prioritize and Delegate

It’s not all up to you! As a nonprofit leader, you know the power of individuals rallying together around a cause. Take some of the weight off your own shoulders. 

Are there things you’ve been carrying on your own that your team (or a partner organization) may be able to help you tackle? What tasks or projects can you lean on volunteers to accomplish? 

Build a Community That Celebrates Wins and Focuses On Impact

Fundraising teams spend so much time thinking about external communication to build relationships with supporters (which is important!) but very little time thinking about internal communication. 

Build a community that celebrates every win—no matter how small—and takes time to recognize each other's efforts. Team comradery can also help you remind each other of the why behind the work. It’s easy to get caught up in the nitty-gritty and forget the mission that fired you all up to join this organization in the first place!

Pro tip: Spend 5–10 minutes of your weekly team meeting to celebrate “mission moments,” where you saw your mission in motion this past week.

Simplify Your Daily Grind 

More than 86% of nonprofit staff say they do “extra work” outside of their actual job description. Set up automations and workflows that help your team spend more time on the work that gets you fired up! 

Find software that can take care of administrative work, so you can focus more on your mission. The biggest benefit? 74% of automation software users say the time they saved is the biggest benefit of adopting that software. This will allow you to carve out more time for creative brainstorming so that you can become reinvigorated to keep fundraising.

If you feel like your burnout is a result of too much work and not enough time, simplifying your daily grind will be a game-changer.

Breathe Easy With Givecloud

We see a common problem across nonprofit work. Nonprofit professionals are spending way more time on tedious tasks than on mission. You sign-up for 10 different software packages. Then, you spend most of your time logging in and out of your software, managing each tool, and trying to figure out how to see all your data in one place!

You want to spend more time making a difference without spreading yourself too thin—but how?

Givecloud to the rescue! Givecloud brings all the marketing, payment, and administrative tools you use every day into a single platform then adds automation and intelligence to give you peace of mind and help you stay focused on your mission.