Steve Maleh Nonprofit Burnout TG

Nonprofit organizations, in general, face many of the same challenges and issues that a business or corporate organization will face. Workers face long hours, struggles with the market and economy, and stressful deadlines. These challenges bring in deeper threats of burnout and exhaustion than would be seen in other organizations. Burnout is a popular topic but, as a psychological issue, many myths and misconceptions surround how to prevent and stave off burnout in workers. Many organizations

Myth 1: Non-Profit Workers Do It For the Mission

In the non-profit sector, it’s often expected that payment will be slim. Some leaders have rationalized that the work itself is a reward – that pay doesn’t matter and raises won’t make a difference. This is just wrong. Nonprofit workers are not volunteers, they put in long hours, create innovative solutions, and do ample marketing and networking efforts. Non-profit workers deserve to have fair pay that matches the work they do.

Myth 2:Add-Ons Are All You Need for Self-care

Mental health and physical wellness are often thought of in terms of what we do outside of our daily lives. Things like going on vacations, retreats, or taking new yoga classes. Many non-profits provide access to these charming little add-ons, and we shouldn’t take away from that value. But wellness goes beyond small extras and add-ons. Non-profits should consider more frequent and smaller benefits for wellness – find a local dry-cleaner that offers pickup/dropoffs, or more flexibility for hours.

Myth 3: Communication Outside the Org is bigger than Inside

Communications in non-profit organizations are often outwardly directed. There are many ways that we reach out to audiences and communicate the work that is done. Oftentimes, these messages are carefully analyzed and planned. 

But the same consideration is often not extended to employees and co-workers. A company-wide email should receive the same consideration as a donor-directed message. 

Myth 4: Your Organization is a ‘Family’

‘Family’ is a brutally exploitative word in business. Many companies and businesses tell their employees that they are ‘family’ to convince workers to go above and beyond what is expected, often to the worker’s detriment. It’s wonderful to be committed and invested in an organization, particularly a non-profit organization. It’s also worth noting that non-profits rely upon a network of individuals that are invested in the industry as a whole. But respecting your workers involves holding them at a distance and acknowledging that they are workers – they have lives and families separate from the organization. Respect your workers by acknowledging that distinction.