Your Nonprofit is Making You Crazy

…and mine is, too!!

Now, we all know that I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for years and don’t plan to leave anytime soon (I’m even getting my Masters in Nonprofit Administration from USF)! But as much as I love the work I do, I’ve recently come to a realization…

My nonprofit is making me crazy!

The vast majority of people working in nonprofits are selfless, caring, passionate people. And when I say passionate, I mean passionate. We’re committed to the cause – mostly underpaid, working long hours, caring wholeheartedly about the work we do.

But when it comes to the day to day work we do… this passion can go overboard. Because we care so much, we believe so strongly in the work we’re doing, we fight for our opinions, programs, and priorities. They mean something to us. They matter.

Well, shoot. If you get too many people like that in a room… they’re bound to make anyone go a little crazy.

The next time you’re in your office, take a second to look around. There’s probably someone making copies, someone frantically getting ready for a committee meeting, someone on the phone with a potential volunteer. And I’d guess the hustle and bustle doesn’t exactly slow down at any point.

So, here’s the thing: this type of constant, passionate work is great in small doses, but in the long term, it’ll make you burn out. And that’s not OK unless you’re inching toward retirement. (Even then it’s not really OK!)

So, what to do? I’m not advising you to up and quit. Not telling you to go find a mindless administrative job that you don’t care about. Instead – accept that your nonprofit is making you crazy. Embrace the fact that everyone cares in excess about their work. The next time you’re in a meeting with someone who seems to be going on about her program, remember that she really believes in this project.

Be understanding, but also realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. The next time your colleagues are gearing up to stay in the office until 6:30, politely leave at 5:00. When noon rolls around, take 20 minutes for a break in the lunchroom. At your desk, remember to breathe and live peacefully. After a little bit of this, you’ll realize you’ve done something:

You’ve taken back the crazy.

-N.C.

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