How to Beat Fundraising Burnout Once and For All

September 18, 2018
6 minutes

Burnout gotcha like blaaaah? 

Stop right there! No, we mean it. What if there were a (fun) way to avoid burnout? As in no more late nights responding to endless emails. No more burning the midnight oil to get the next appeal out the door. Yes, there's a better way. 

We’re all doing #AllTheThings to keep our organizations running. Why? We love and care deeply about the work our organizations are doing. We’re the do-gooders! For many years, this go-go-go work ethic has been a badge of honor. One tiny problem... Go-go-go all the time = burnout. Fortunately, there’s a movement emerging that encourages all of us to remove the badge and prioritize self-care to eliminate burnout once and for all. 

When we reach the point of burnout, we end up experiencing emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. No one wants to end up here, yet it happens to the best of us. 

Let’s talk about some ways you can stay passionate amidst burnout.

Tip #1: Recognize when you're inching closer to burnout

Knock knock. Who’s there? Burnout. Burnout who? BURN-till-you-drain-all-your-energy-with-irritability-and-pass-OUT-from-exhaustion. Burn. Out. Yikes, let’s close the door on burnout forever by discovering the warnings that signal you’re close to the point of no return. 

Are you feeling tired all the time, running on zero energy, or growing irritated at little things? These are all signals of burnout and it may be time to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Recognize it. Name it. Beat it.

Tip #2: Practice self-care

Self-care isn’t blasting money on mani-pedis and cucumber-infused water. That’s nice, but not the point. Self-care is anything that helps you recharge and rejuvenate, and in some cases, you don’t have to spend a dime. 

Beth Kanter, author of The Happy, Healthy Non-Profit, suggests that non-profit professionals create a self-care plan. Kanter suggests developing a set of daily and even monthly habits that support your best self. 

Need some ideas? Here are a few. Take a 20-minute nap. Color. Rack up some steps on your Fitbit by going for a walk. Drink enough water. Take breaks during the day. Give yourself some tech-free time. Make time for a hobby you enjoy. Listen to music. Try a meditation on Headspace. Journal.

Tip #3: Remember Your Why

When motivation runs low, it’s time to kick in the discipline. You’re doing important work you love, but some days, it feels more like work than love and your motivation tank is understandably on empty. Now is the time to lean on discipline, and the best way to start is by remembering your "why." 

Why do you do this work? Why do you care about this organization? If you’re a fundraiser, maybe spend an hour volunteering with one of your programs to reconnect to the amazing work your fundraising efforts make possible.

Tip #4: Set good boundaries

Another way to kick burnout to the curb? Set boundaries. Perhaps a lil’ #byefelicia to working weekends? Maybe it’s increasing your sleep by committing to a certain bedtime every night. There are many different types of personal or professional boundaries you can set. 

Think you could use some accountability to maintain your boundaries? Ask a friend or a colleague to be your accountability buddy. Make it a point to check in with each other once a week and see how things are going.

An illustration of Caucasian legs walking to the left. The legs are wearing white sneakers with no socks. The background is a blue sky with white clouds and the foreground is yellow and pink flowers.

Tip #5: Look for big wins to get long-term relief

Want to end burnout for good? Work smarter, not harder, by changing the way you fundraise! Go for those big wins that offer long-term relief. Yes, we're talking about the holy grail of fundraising—unrestricted funding. Discover opportunities for larger, unrestricted gifts from your major donors, foundations, and other funders. (Don’t know who they are? Discover donors’ capacity using our wealth screening tool.) Then create an automated nurture campaign for those specific donors. 

Looking for alternatives to a holy grail quest? A creative alternative is to establish new partnerships or collaborations with other organizations. You can also look for ways to make your workload easier. This could include automating your tasks using Funraise tools or rounding up help from volunteers or board members.

Remember, you are #fundingawesome!

We are over-the-moon excited to see so many nonprofit professionals embrace self-care and discover ways to stay happy and healthy. As more organizations support this culture change, hopefully, we'll see less and less burnout, and fewer amazing people leave the sector. 

Fundraising is hard work, and we think it’s awesome you’re pursuing work that matters. In fact, our work making nonprofits more successful is really what drives us. Let us show you what Funraise can do for you. 

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