Recognizing And Avoiding Fundraiser Burnout

Burnout is prevalent among fundraisers. There are statistics showing that in some cases a fundraiser lasts barely more than a year on a position. There are signs of burnout, or not burning out.

Danielle Collins, ACC, NBC-HWC, a wellness coach, nonprofit consultant and head of Primavera Consulting in Sacramento, Calif., walked attendees through the signs and symptoms of burnout during a session at the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual international conference in San Antonio, Texas.

The revolving door crisis in the fundraising world certainly has people on edge. But first, she explained what burnout is not, citing Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Burnout is not: A period of difficult life challenges; Personal weakness; Selfishness or laziness; or, Clinical depression.

There are signs that you’re are burning out. Those signs or symptoms include exhaustion, ineffectiveness and cynicism, Collins explained. Six signs and causes of ensuing burnout include workload, reward, fairness, autonomy, value and community, she said.

The key is finding meaning and that involves understanding your own core values, Collins told the attendees. You also have to understand the values you have acquired along the way.

Understanding your core values first means identifying them and aligning your life choices around them. Core values are your intrinsic guiding principles, she said. Research shows that when actions are aligned with values, we experience joy and fulfillment.

Collins told attendees to align their decisions, each day, with core values. It’s a method for what she called “how to dial down the overhelm.” Leaders need to create a culture of wellbeing, where employees are cherished, where there is a reduced turnover rate of the development staff, which helps employees reach their potential, according to Collins.

Oh, yeah. Get some sleep. Collins cited a SleepScore Labs statistics that 79 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night.