We’re tired. How’s your organization doing?
We'll say it – we're exhausted. In the beginning of the pandemic people were in utter shock. That shock turned into action – people only wanted to find ways to help. Nonprofits were pleasantly surprised with the spike in donations – it was almost like an adrenaline rush. Whether it was donating food, goods, money, people were ready to step in and lend a hand.
Just like any adrenaline rush, though, there comes a crash. The adrenaline has seemingly returned to normal and a lot of Nonprofits are experiencing what we'll refer to as ‘user exhaustion.' People are getting tired. We're starting to see the user exhaustion take a toll on a lot of organizations, small businesses and employees across the boards.
Fatigue comes in many forms, and many Nonprofits are starting to see two prominent forms: Supporter fatigue and employee fatigue.
As mentioned above, in the beginning of the pandemic there was a huge increase in people finding ways to lend a hand. The adrenaline was pumping in this crisis situation. When people gave during this adrenaline rush, it's not quite clear if anyone knew how much help organizations would need to sustain their future.
A major trend that organizations are starting to see is their supporters are tired of being asked for donations and supporters are tired of the inundation of emails, calls and texts. One thing they'll never get tired of is the amazing work your organization is doing. Don't ever forget that, and always let that be your motivation. People still want to help as much as they can, but as we get deeper into this pandemic, more people are losing their jobs and financial futures are uncertain. Not to mention people ‘checking out'.
While it's always good to be empathetic about these hardships, in order to stay alive as a Nonprofit, you need donations and you need to serve your niche community. So, what can you do to work with the supporter fatigue? We're challenging your organization to get creative.
If your organization normally charges for events, seek out local businesses to sponsor the events or even partner with other Nonprofits like yours to cover some costs. This is great for not only those involved with your organization, but you are also seeking local partnerships. Local partnerships go a longggggggggggg way.
Cut down your email schedule – quality is always better than quantity. Combine your daily emails into weekly emails. Also cut down on always asking for money. Instead of directly asking, list out all the amazing tangible ‘do's' your organization has done. Always, always thank your supporters and check in with them. When people can see what their donation has done, and feel appreciated, they'll be more inclined to do more.
Nonprofit employees are unsung heroes – pre-pandemic included. They've always worked for a less than desired salary, with long and weird hours, but when you saw them, there was a smile on their faces. It's a scary time to be working at a Nonprofit now. Employees are being faced with being placed on furlough, getting laid off, salary cuts and no bonuses.
In addition to this, these employees have this major ‘in your face' reality of an uncertain future. They're seeing the internal cutbacks, hearing about the financial reality, and working more hours than they've ever worked before. These employees are also thinking of ways daily to sustain their organization. On top of all of this, they're dealing with not only their own fatigue, but trying to keep that smile on their face when interacting with supporters.
Some helpful ways of addressing and dealing with employee fatigue:
- Normalize work hours again. Go back to regular 9-5 hours, or whatever hours were pre-pandemic. Just because you are working from home, doesn't mean you need to be working all the time.
- Cut back on meetings. Meetings are important, but again, quality over quantity. Multiple meetings is tedious and takes more of a toll on employees than you may think. Setting a timer during meetings is also helpful to be sure you are remaining on track.
- If you are an organization with regular programming, take turns leading the programs as much as you are able, so there is relief.
- Implement more paid time- off for employees. If this is doable for your organization, do it!
While dealing with this user fatigue seems especially exhausting this year, remember it has always been a trend. The winter months often seem a bit cooler in both temperature and engagement. People are busy this time of year – school activities, traveling, exhausted from the holidays, etc. It all looks different, but it is still relevant. Same thing with employee fatigue, this year there is much more uncertainty of their future, though. Working at a Nonprofit and supporting a Nonprofit through a pandemic is new to all of us. We all are counting down the days until we are back to normal. Until then – be kind to one another and be mindful that Nonprofits can use your support now, more than ever.