Avoid Burnout in 2016 with 3 Powerful, Simple Tips

The employee turnover rate at nonprofit organizations is shamefully high. A number of factors contribute to this, including burnout. While you cannot control all of the contributing factors, you can certainly manage some of them.

With that in mind, here are three powerful, yet simple, tips to help you avoid burnout in 2016:

Tip 1: Step back. Look at your organization in action.

As fundraising professionals, we spend a great deal of time focusing on tactics and numbers. There are good reasons for that. Effective tactics are essential for achieving fundraising success. Keeping careful track of the numbers helps us to know which tactics work best and indicates whether we’re on track to achieve our goals.

Binoculars by gerlos via FlickrUnfortunately, if we overly focus on tactics and numbers, we can lose sight of what really matters. Remember, it’s not just about the money you are able to raise; it’s about what that money can accomplish.

To help avoid burnout, make sure to take the time to plug back into your organization’s mission. Remind yourself of the good you are helping your organization to achieve by helping it secure essential resources.

If you work for a university, take a walk through campus and stop to have some conversations with students. If you work for a hospital, visit the maternity ward. If you work for a homeless shelter, spend some time in the kitchen preparing meals and then have a meal with some of the recipients. If you work for a theater, attend a performance, meet some of the performers, and talk to some members of the audience.

It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not just raising money. You’re helping your organization achieve its worthy mission.

Tip 2: Talk to your donors.

A great way to re-energize yourself is to talk with your organization’s donors. I don’t mean just talk to donors about their next gift. Instead, contact donors to thank them personally and learn why they support your organization. Their passion will likely inspire you.

Not only will you benefit from talking with donors, your organization will benefit as well. First, your organization will be less likely to have a staff member (you) burnout. Second, donors will be happy to hear from you and, as a result of the call, will be more likely to continue giving to your organization and more likely to give more.

For more about this, read my post: “The Greatest Idea for Retaining and Upgrading Donors.”

Tip 3: Take a vacation.

Perhaps the number one best way to avoid burnout at work is simply to not show up. By that, I mean, take the vacation you’re entitled to take. Despite my decades in the fundraising profession, I’m still amazed at how many development people accumulate vacation days or cash them out rather than actually go on vacation.

I’ll admit that, early in my career, I was not a big believer in vacations until a wise person convinced me otherwise. Once I went on a real vacation, I became a true believer. After two weeks away, I came back more energized, more creative, more efficient, and more effective.

You certainly don’t need to feel guilty about taking time off. The reality is, by vacationing, you’ll actually be more productive when in the office. First, leading up to your vacation, you’ll likely spend more hours at work than you usually do to ensure your desk is cleared before you go away. Second, when you come back, you’ll have more energy and creativity. Therefore, you’ll work more efficiently and productively.

By the way, when I speak of taking a “real vacation,” I mean one where you don’t call into the office, don’t check email, don’t listen to voice mail, don’t check text messages, don’t read reports, etc. In other words: No work! If you do any of those things, it’s NOT a vacation day. To qualify as a real vacation, you need to completely disengage from work.

I recognize that some of my readers may believe they’re too vital to their organization to disconnect even for a week. Well, if you’re one of those folks, I have some shocking news for you: You’re just not that important. Your organization will survive perfectly fine without you for a week or two. If it really can’t, you have huge organizational and/or managerial problems.

Even one of history’s greatest thinkers believed in vacations. You can read what Leonardo Da Vinci had to say about vacation along with my additional thoughts on the subject by reading my post: “Can You Still be Donor-Centered by Putting Yourself First?” If a brilliant, creative guy like Da Vinci believed in vacations, you should, too.

In the New Year, I encourage you to resolve to take better care of yourself so you’ll be better able to take care of others, including your organization.

If my tips to combat burnout don’t quite work for you, I have one bonus tip for you: Eat more chocolate!

Now, tell me, what are your favorite ways to avoid burning out on the job?

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a happy, healthy New Year!

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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2 Comments to “Avoid Burnout in 2016 with 3 Powerful, Simple Tips”

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