When it comes to fundraising for your nonprofit organization, sometimes it feels like more work exists than time. Okay, be honest: it always feels like more work than time. Combine this with short staff or not enough volunteers, and fundraising ends up feeling like a major chore, leaving you exhausted.
What happens next? Oftentimes, constant fundraising leaves nonprofit employees and volunteers feeling burned out. What is fundraising burnout? Burnout is defined as the physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress; in other words, fatigue, frustration or apathy. Chances are, you have felt it, seen it and experienced it within yourself or within your own nonprofit organization (NPO).
What can you do to keep your efforts energized? Luckily, there are options to counteract burnout. Here are five ways to avoid fundraising burnout within your organization.
1. Prioritize the most important.
First and foremost, when it comes to avoiding fundraising burnout with your organization, prioritizing what needs to get done serves as a valuable first step. Prioritizing matters not just for the NPO, but also for your personal life. Chances are, you have a lot of things to do, inside your job and outside of it.
So, establish your priorities. Even with fundraisers, some things need to be done, and some things probably can wait until later. Set up a to do list, from most immediate need to least and then work through it. If applicable, create a fundraising to do list with your coworkers or fellow volunteers. Then, work through it together. It can be much easier to get one step done at a time, rather than looking at everything you need to do and feeling burned out before you even get started.
2. Remember your mission.
In all the hubbub and mayhem of fundraising—especially year-end fundraising—it can be easy to get off track and focus on how much money you need, how many volunteers you require or how things operate. These definitely matter, but what means the most is why. Why do you work for this organization? Why do you care about this cause?
Remember to focus on your mission rather than the mayhem. If you continue to work hard, everything will get done in time; but, if you lose sight of your purpose within the organization, burnout will quickly follow. Focus on your mission and why this cause is important to you, and your energy level will continue to be refilled as you work through the busy season.
3. Get rid of time-wasters.
One important way to avoid fundraising burnout is to use your time wisely. How can you do this? Step one is getting rid of time-wasters. You know what we mean. Checking Facebook, scrolling through Instagram, surfing the Internet… all of these are major time-wasters within the workplace. When used incorrectly, they can push off the actual work you need to get done, and leave you feeling overwhelmed when you realize how much you have yet to accomplish. Then of course, the feeling of being overwhelmed can result in feeling burned out.
Get rid of the time-wasters in your life to focus on what needs to be done. For some, this may mean just avoiding Facebook on your work computer. For others, it could mean completely deleting the apps from your phone. Whatever your biggest time-wasters are, identify them and work to overcome them. This way, your priorities will be finished quickly and on time, leaving you feeling less overwhelmed and burned out.
4. Find a support system.
If you do start experiencing fundraising burnout, talking about it offers an important first step. Find a support system who understands your experiences and can be there to listen or offer advice. This may be a coworker, fellow volunteer or just a close friend.
Perhaps your support system involves people from all avenues of your life. Whatever you decide, bring together individuals around you who you can trust and lean on when you feel emotionally drained. Then, when the dreaded feeling of burnout starts creeping up on you, you will have a strong team of loved ones available to fill you back up with encouragement.
5. Take a break.
Finally, there comes a time where you just need to take a break. Taking a break and relaxing or going on a short staycation is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, just the opposite. Break time offers the perfect opportunity to mentally and emotionally let go of all the stress from fundraising. Rather than letting it sit inside you and fester until you inevitably burn out, take a day off here or there to give yourself some time away.
Trust us, you will be way more productive when your head is in the right place, rather than feeling stressed out, but trying to work through it anyways. Talk to your supervisor or fellow employees and ask for some time. At the very least, take a few moments each day just to be alone, relax and refocus. You will be amazed at the results when it comes to avoiding fundraising burnout.
In the nonprofit community, fundraising burnout is a very real thing both staff members and volunteers can experience. But fear not: there are ways to overcome. Next time you feel the stress coming on, try out some of these tips to avoid the feeling of burnout and be as valuable as possible to your nonprofit organization.
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