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Downes Murray International News

Are you a burnt out fundraiser?

It’s totally normal to feel super exhausted after a particularly rough day – but if every day is starting to feel rough, you might be close to burning out. Trainer, speaker, and author of The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, Beth Kanter, points out the warning signs.

The clinical definition of burnout is ‘a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that occurs
when we feel overwhelmed by too many demands, too few resources, and too little recovery time’.

Given the harsh working environment for non-profits, it’s a perfect recipe for a lot of burnt out fundraising professionals. Here are four warning signs of burnout, coupled with easy ways to feel better.

Warning sign 1: You’re feeling weary and small things start to really irritate you
The first sign of burnout is often a short fuse. Maybe every little thing about a donor, a board member, or your executive director is rubbing you the wrong way. Your executive team’s expectations are way out of whack and you just don’t have the energy to set them straight.

If you’re feeling like you’re at your wit’s end at the start of the day, you might be burning out.

Self-care solution: Get more sleep, even if it means taking a 20-minute nap under your desk
Don’t limit your shut-eye to your bed. Sleep in the workplace may seem like an oxymoron, but napping during the day can improve cognitive functioning, leading to greater productivity at work. Studies show that daytime napping can elevate moods and even improve immune function.

Warning sign 2: You can’t seem to concentrate on anything and your productivity is suffering
When you’re overworked and over –stressed, it affects your concentration – you forget things easily and you can’t focus.

Self-care solution: Add more movement into your workday  
A study found that a simple 20-minute walk can significantly improve your ability to concentrate. While another at Stanford University found people were more creative when they were walking versus sitting.

Don’t think of taking a walk as taking a break or slacking, but instead consider it a tool that will improve your productivity and bring more creative ideas to your work.

Warning sign 3: You’re feeling sluggish throughout your day
You feel physically and emotionally exhausted – you may go to bed early, only to wake up still feeling tired. You
might find it difficult to get out of bed at all. This sort of fatigue only adds to your anxiety about all the work you need to get done.

Self-care solution: Stick to healthy foods – avoid sugary snacks at the office
Knowing what we put into our bodies can mean the difference between being strong, clear-headed, and effective or being sluggish, dull, and slow at work.

At home, you may be successful at avoiding sugary snacks because you don’t buy them. That’s why it’s so important to make a plan for bringing healthy foods and drinks to the office.

Warning sign 4: You’re feeling compelled to overwork
You may find yourself working after hours and weekends to research donors, write proposals, or plan campaign strategies. And, of course, you may not mind that much if you have a real passion for your work.

However, your passion can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it keeps you going in the face of difficult challenges. On the other hand, you can become so driven you don’t stop to refuel or notice your work is starting to take a toll on your health and well-being.

Self-care solution: Take a break
Sometimes our reaction to stress is to work nights and weekends, not taking breaks throughout the day, or sacrificing holidays. But if you give your brain a chance to reboot, you’ll return to work with more clarity and perspective. Working longer hours decreases your productivity.

The bottom line: self-care isn’t a luxury – it’s the key to being productive at work.

When you are overworked and super stressed, you will not perform at the top of your game. Take better care of yourself so you can raise more money for your organisation’s mission to save the world.

With acknowledgement to

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