They Aren't Just Buzz Words - Burnout, Self Care and Infrastructure
Why Nonprofits and Their Employees Need to Take This Seriously
Admittedly I am only about 25 pages in but everyone needs to go buy the new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman with a bonus super special forward by Vu Le of Nonprofits With Balls. (Which as a side note if you are not reading, you are missing some poignant and amusing slap-the-desk content).
This year I was fortunate enough to meet Beth when she came for the 2016 Nonprofit Social Media Conference in Richmond. I've followed Beth's work online and through two other phenomenal books - The Networked Nonprofit and Measuring the Network Nonprofit. Immediately, this book is a little different.
After 10 years of consulting across different sectors I have found a trend that nonprofits often suffer two common problems. These problems are especially prevalent when the organization has a faith based or social justice mission - where the employees personal passion in the work and/or call clouds their ability to practice self-care.
1. Nonprofit employees often work too hard because the problem/issue is just that big. Poverty, birth rates, trauma, health, housing - the problems are weighty and will require many people to legislate, advocate, and educate in order to move the needle.
2. Nonprofits regularly under invest in infrastructure by putting too many resources into their programs. They ignore or slight themselves in informational technology, strategic planning, process improvement, outcome development, etc.
These two issues are obviously linked and double back upon themselves. Employees work hard because they don't have the resources to support their work. The problems are so gigantic they need all the programmatic support they can get. Beth is known for her humor and her grace in highlighting emerging issues with nonprofits. I look forward to finishing the book and continuing to talk to nonprofits about investing in themselves. Healthy Nonprofits do better work.