Counteracting Burnout

Counteracting Burnout

Counteracting Burnout by Rob Fitzpatrick

The first appearance of the term Burnout was in the mid 1970’s related to the helping professions (doctors, nurses, social workers, etc). As is often the case, in the time since then there has become a long list of terms to describe more specific situations. For the purpose of this article, I would like to separate these into two categories: Burnout and Compassion Fatigue. While the end results look quite similar, the path to these feelings is quite different and as such the solution is equally different.

Is It Burnout?

In the case of Burnout, the cause is generally linked to dissatisfaction with an organization or its practices. For example, the way work is divided or the process of promotion in a company. The individual feels as though no matter what I do, I cannot get ahead or my voice is unheard and therefore meaningless. In this case there is a feeling of disconnection and isolation and these trigger a number of other behaviors. A common theme would be taking more time off than ever before, low output and lack of interest in connecting with co-workers (even though this is the core issue). An employer’s first instinct may be to take something off the worker’s plate or suggest taking a vacation, with the hope that the employee will return to work the following week with a renewed vigor. The fact is, one of the most common times for people to quit their job is upon returning from vacation. When an employee is losing touch with their job and workplace it is off most importance to engage the individual and pull them back in to the fold.

Or Compassion Fatigue?

On the flip side, Compassion Fatigue takes place when an employee becomes too invested in the consumer and their needs. Particularly in a helping field, employees are at a risk of crossing boundaries in the name of going above and beyond. Sometimes we see a part of ourselves in a particular client or we have a long term relationship that crosses from professional to shades of friendship and familiarity. In contrast to an employee feeling burned out, an individual with Compassion Fatigue tends to overwork, picking up extra shifts or putting more effort into certain roles or clients, because they feel as though more needs to be done and that particular employee is the only one capable of executing the role. This category of difficulty is in need of separation from a job before an ethical or even legal boundary is crossed. For an employer, this can be a difficult call to make as the employee is a star on paper, but for the long term health and vitality of a company that professional space is necessary.

Questions To Ask Yourself

For individuals, we must be aware of the reasons for our actions. Are we working harder from a place of health, or is it to cover the feeling of ineffectiveness that comes from feeling Burnout or Compassion Fatigue? Is our passion at a healthy level, or are we trending toward obsession that is having an effect on ourselves and our loved ones? For companies, is there health and wellness in our policies and practices or are there expectations that leads to employees feeling overworked and under-appreciated?

I want to invite you to the Non Board Board’s November 13th meeting to explore Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and related issues that face workers today. I will be talking about organizational and personal characteristics that put one in danger of experiencing Burnout, how to deal with symptoms as they arise, and of course how to prevent issues in the first place. (

READ PART 1 HERE: Burnout by Rob Fitzpatrick

Rob Fitzpatrick is a Masters Level Counselor for The Refuge Center For Counseling in Franklin, TN.


Can Development Directors Save The World? by Emily Carroll

2015 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report Infographic by Joel Widmer (Our #1 post of the year!)

How To Evaluate Nonprofit Marketing Opportunities by Joel Widmer



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Burnout by Rob Fitzpatrick

During the seasons of life, seemingly everyone has to deal with feeling burned out. That moment when you and those around you know what you need to do, but for some reason you cannot muster the strength to cross the next hurdle. For some, this may look like putting off a phone call even though it is a guaranteed sale that just needs to be finalized. For others, it may look like lying in bed in the morning dreading going to work at a job just months, weeks, even days ago brought you joy and fulfillment.

When it’s a problem…

Now these feelings are natural to many of us, and at certain times we are going to feel spent, I think of a teacher at the end of the school year, an accountant just before the end of tax season, and any number of examples that fit any profession. A problem arises when the feeling of being burned out, transforms into a more permanent case of Burnout. When long after the deadline, presentation, or missed promotion passes the resentment and bitterness still remain, there is a need to refocus and reenergize to move forward.

The Origin

The origin of the term Burnout came from Dr. Herbert Freudenberger, who felt a similarity to the feelings he experienced as an overworked Psychologists and the images of the burned structures where houses used to stand. What were once strong structures built to perform well in many circumstances, now stood without use and as barely a reminder of what they once were. While a professional may do his or her best to cover the effects of burnout, underneath the surface they are just as ineffective as the metaphorical burnt out structure that Dr. Freudenberger described.

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

In a more recent trend, there seems to be a disconnect between efficiency and effectiveness of the actions that individuals take. The first time that I was introduced to this was in comments from Rickson Gracie, a legendary Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete and forefather of what is now known as Mixed Martial Arts. In the context of martial arts, efficiency would measure how quickly you can perform a task or move, while effectiveness dictates the result. Being efficient in one particular move is nice, but at the end of the day, how well does it protect you from an opponent or help you to perform in a stressful situation? In many clients, I see a clear connection to this principle in everyday life. While people are becoming more efficient every day, how effective are we truly becoming in our work, our roles as friends, family and so on? The first misstep in counteracting Burnout generally focuses on becoming more efficient, focusing on one tiny step and doing it over and over again. Often an individual needs more than anything else to step back, remember the goals and desire to become more effective overall.

Why Wait?

While Burnout is an all-encompassing group of symptoms, the fact is we can get through the problem on our own, but why wait to see how bad the effects become? There are a number of ways to prevent ourselves and our employees from dealing with the feelings of exhaustion, low motivation and ineffective work on an organizational level. On a personal level developing awareness and resilience toward these feelings will help not only with job performance and satisfaction, but also with overall satisfaction in life. I invite you to read the next blog post that will highlight ways to identify and counteract symptoms on Burnout and related conditions such as Compassion Fatigue, and also join me on November 13th when I will be speaking with the NonBoardBoard (

Rob Fitzpatrick is a Masters Level Counselor for The Refuge Center For Counseling in Franklin, TN.

2015 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report [Infographic]

Recently the team from NonprofitMarketingGuide published the 2015 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report, and it’s packed with some really interesting insights!

  • This is the first year that community engagement and donor retention have surpassed priority in acquiring new donors.
  • Nonprofit websites and email marketing are still the most important communication channels which hasn’t changed in the last year.
  • The biggest challenges are not enough time to create quality content and a lack of budget.

Check out the rest of the infographic below for insights on how to help your nonprofit’s communication in 2015!

nonprofit communication trends


Joel Widmer is the Founder and President of Fluxe Digital Marketing.


Burnout by Rob Fitzpatrick

How To Evaluate Nonprofit Marketing Opportunities by Joel Widmer

nonprofit marketing opportunities

How To Evaluate Nonprofit Marketing Opportunities

“An opportunity that doesn’t align with your goals is a distraction, no matter how lucrative it is.”

I wrote down that piece of advice for my future self a few years back after I took advantage of a few “opportunities” only to find I was even further from my goals after pursuing them.

I love a good opportunity, but sometimes, in the moment, it’s hard to evaluate how valuable it will be. I’ve found I can’t trust myself to distinguish between an opportunity that will truly move move me closer to my goals and the blind justification that comes with being ecstatic about a new idea.

So how can you keep a level head when you’re about to say YES to a marketing opportunity that could be a game-changer for your nonprofit — but could potentially derail it as well?

Of course, surrounding yourself with wise people helps immensely, but I’ve found that these few questions are great to ask yourself and your team when faced with a new opportunity. Whether you’re starting a new social media strategy, an Adwords campaign, or a strategic partnership, these questions will help you evaluate any marketing opportunity that comes your way.

Who is my target audience for this opportunity?

Before pursuing a marketing opportunity, you should know two things: Who is your exact target audience? And are you using the best channels to reach that particular audience?

Resist the temptation of saying “everybody” is your target audience. Create a customer persona for the audience you’re going after. Look at your past marketing campaigns for any data that might help with the target audience. If you haven’t targeted this audience before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting. Just be sure to measure and evaluate whether they’re worth pursuing.

Will this opportunity move me closer to my goals?

What are your goals for this marketing project? Make sure you clearly outline what a win looks like for the project and what you’re willing to do to reach those goals. In the days of Don Draper, all clients had to do was approve sketches and new ads. Today, effective marketing takes more involvement and resources from the client.

What resources will it take to execute this opportunity and is this the best place to focus those resources?

If your team is executing this campaign internally, make sure you know what resources will be required. If an outside marketing company is working on the project your team won’t be tied up, so it just depends on what’s best for your situation. Look at the timeline of the project and everything else you have going on and decide whether to keep the project in-house or hire an outside company.

Are there other ways to get more out of your goal?

Now that you have your end goal in mind, how can you get even more out of it? If you look at the pieces of the marketing campaign, you may find you can get even more out of your individual marketing assets.

For example, if your goal is to write 3 e-books to use for educating prospects and building your email list, you have two choices. You could simply write those e-books, or you could use your blog to share excerpts of them and get people interested in the subjects, while also stretching your content much further.

How can we predict the outcome of this opportunity?

Find companies who have done similar marketing campaigns and do your homework. Research what their audience’s reaction was to the campaign, how much of an impact it had, and any mistakes they made that you can avoid. If they aren’t a competitor, it’s even worth giving them a call to ask them directly.

How does this opportunity fit into the rest of my marketing strategy? 

Does it compliment or compete with it? Your new marketing opportunity should complement, and even enhance, your current marketing. It should also fit in with the other stages in your marketing. For example, if you see that most of your marketing falls in the early stage and this is an early-stage opportunity, you may want to hold off until you balance it out with middle and late stage marketing.

Use these questions as a guide to quickly evaluate each new marketing opportunity. Your answers will tell you whether each opportunity that comes along is worth your time and investment.

free images for nonoprofits

Where To Find Great Free Pictures For Your Nonprofit Blog

Here’s my secret stash of completely free photos for the taking. They don’t have any copyrights so you don’t have to worry about anyone coming after you. Just download and use them on your blog, email, website, marketing collateral or anywhere else!

Each site is updated with new photos daily : ) – Searches multiple free stock photo sites – Also aggregates multiple free photo sites – You have to register but all photos are free to use and great selection – Free photo aggregator site. Hundreds of new photos added daily! – Variety of different photos sorted by tags, which makes it easy to find them!

One last tip! Most of these photos are high resolution and therefore very large. If you want to reduce the size of the image so it does not take up so much space on your website, use this free compressor tool that will reduce it to a fraction of the size without compromising quality:

by Joel Widmer

The Best and Worst Contact and Email Management Systems

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 4.59.45 PMWe asked eight NBB leaders what contact and/or email management system they use, along with any comments and cautionary tales.  Here’s what they said:


1) We currently use Silverpop – it’s a marketing automation + email system. It’d be on your higher end, we spend about $3,000 a month on it.

When I first joined our company, we used Constant Contact. I use Mailchimp for most of my clients – it’d be the one I would recommend to people, the ease of use, power, and integration are phenomenal. Once you get into lists with over 100,000 email addresses, it make sense to look at larger solutions like Silverpop, Marketo, or ExactTarget.

One thing I’d caution about Mailchimp or Constant Contact: they are overly sensitive to spam or block report percentages. For example, if you hit a 0.75% spam report rate on Mailchimp, you going to get a warning and possibly have your account turned off. This may be something out of your control and it happened to our organization some time ago when they used Mailchimp. Read More


Meet The App That Donates Every Time You Hit Snooze

Looking for a new way to increase donations?

Icukoo is a new alarm clock app that donates to a charity every time you hit the snooze button. If you snooze the alarm the app takes note. When your snoozes have added up to a set amount, the app will send a text asking if you want to donate that amount or let more snoozes accrue.

Here’s how it works (from their website):

a. Set the iCukoo alarm.
b. Select the charity you want to support.
c. Decide how much each snooze is worth.

Right now it’s only available to a select amount of charities but hopefully it’ll open to more soon. You can check out the iCukoo website for more information.



How To Use The “One Hat Technique” To Stay Focused

one hat technique

When you run a nonprofit, it’s not uncommon to wear a dozen different hats on a single day. You probably find yourself dashing between planning, managing, answering emails, and projects that urgently need your attention.

But there’s a problem that arises when you don’t have clarity in your schedule: the tendency to flip-flop between hats.

In this short video I explain how to eliminate that obscurity, focus on one thing at a time with complete clarity, and move to the next project.

This simple technique from my Time Management Course will help you in the execution part of your time management. When you’re in the thick of it and not sure what to do, I’ve found this has really helped.

3 Excellent Nonprofit Facebook Pages You Can Learn From


nonprofit fb pages

Keeping up a nonprofit Facebook page is tough. It’s fun and easy at first, but when the ideas run out and you’re unsure what to do next, it quickly becomes a grind.

A great way to discover new concepts is to look at what others are doing. Keep an eye on other nonprofits to see what is getting engagement and what you can try with your audience. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own. When you can’t think of what to post next, that little spark is often just what you need.

Here are 3 great Facebook pages that are creating good content and engaging their donors. Check them out and see what resonates with you!

Christian Care Ministry

From their about page:

Christian Care Ministry provides a variety of programs to serve and connect the Christian community, including Medi-Share, Manna, Restore and Healthy Church.

christian care ministry

Why we like them:

  • The top banner gets you involved immediately with what is happening for the Christian care ministry.
  • There are lots of visuals, like Bible verses and quotes, that people can easily engage with.
  • They do a good job of incorporating hashtags into their posts.
  • They keep their audience engaged with quizzes, contests and fill in the blanks.

Show Hope

From their about page:

Show Hope exists to mobilize individuals and communities to join God’s revolution to care for orphans in their distress, helping to provide waiting children with food, shelter, medical care and forever families.

show hope

Why we like them:

  • Show Hope has a lot of great extra tabs like events, blog posts and email signups. (Though we do wish they kept them a little more up to date!)
  • They do a great job of keeping people informed through their blog posts on Facebook.
  • Their pictures are formatted perfectly for Facebook posts.
  • They do an excellent job of staying engaged, responding to questions and comments in the newsfeed.

charity: water

From their about page:

charity: water is working every day to reinvent charity while bringing clean drinking water to the 748 million people living without.


Why we like them:

  • The photography immediately catches your eye. Their photographs draw you in and make you want to read about them, and they do a good job of describing them simply.
  • The tone of voice for charity: water is very personal. When you scroll through their timeline you’ll notice specific stories about many of their members and sponsors.
  • They also feature some of the wackier ways people have raised money which is entertaining and thought-provoking. (One guy raised money by listening to Nickelback for 168 hours and a vegetarian promised to eat a hamburger if she raised $10,000).
  • They’ve done a great job with reviews on Facebook. Facebook reviews have grown in importance and with over 786 reviews and an average rating of 4.8, they not only have great social proof, but also dozens of testimonials from their sponsors.

Bonus tip!

Take advantage of the follow feature on Facebook’s insights page. You can follow several other pages to see what they are doing and how they are growing. Use those pages to get ideas for engaging posts and keep tabs on pages you want to engage with.

The Seinfeld Elevator Pitch Method For Nonprofits


Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 2.25.39 PMHave you ever wanted the ability to get someone to emotionally connect with your nonprofit in just seconds?  A few years ago we stumbled across a method to do so, and it’s been a huge help to our nonprofit leaders ever since.  

And it all started with a show about nothing.

The genius of Seinfeld was how quickly he brought you into his world.  During the early seasons, he’d lead into the show with clips of his stand-up starting with, “Have you ever noticed the guy who…” and then he’d mention some funny characteristic.  Watching at home, you’d immediately think of a friend with that same characteristic. 

Invariably, the trait Seinfeld mentioned would lead you into the quirky, crazy over-the-top world in which only Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George lived.  With one sentence, he connected with you emotionally, kept you hooked, and brought you into his world.

Develop your own “Seinfeld Elevator Pitch”

Read these two sentences and see which one connects with you more:

  1. “I’m with a nonprofit and we help people who’ve been addicted to drugs, come out of prison, or who’ve been in an abusive relationship.”
  2. “Have you ever known someone with a tough background who had trouble getting back on their feet?”

When you read the first one, what popped into your mind?  Was it someone you didn’t know going to help someone else you didn’t know?  Or possibly that it seemed like a well-intentioned list?

But when you read the second sentence, maybe the first thing that popped into your mind was an actual person, a friend or a loved one.  Someone who’d had a tough life and just couldn’t seem to break the cycle.  Once that person is in your mind, everything else you hear will have an emotional anchor.

STEP 1: Write your “Seinfeld” question.

Choose a question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will lead to what you actually do.  

When our leaders started doing this, they saw big results. The elevator pitch stopped being about them and their nonprofit, and it started being about the person hearing the pitch.  It also helped them crystalize what the pitch should be about — connecting people, not about listing facts.

Emotional connection trumps listing facts every time for memory recall.

Why The Pitch Order Matters – The Old-Timey Newspaper Method

Remember newspapers?  Unlike their online progeny, space for an article wasn’t unlimited.  The most important information was first, then the second most important, and so on.  That allowed editors to cut out the end of your article if a more important story came along, but the readers still had the most important information.

The same goes for your elevator pitch.  After your engaging question, put the most important thing someone should know first, then the second, and so on.  Time becomes less of a factor.  If you’re only going from the third to the first floor at least you’re able to get in the three most important sentences.  If you’re going from the first floor to the top of the Chrysler building, too bad for them!

STEP 2: Write down the single most important fact someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third.

This is difficult, but you need to write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then you need to shorten that.  Then you need to figure out the second, and so on.  The more intentional you are about this, the better your pitch will be.

Call To Action

Whether you’ve had time for three sentences or thirty, your last sentence should be a call to action in the form of a question.  It can be anything from “Will you pray for us?” to “Would you like to be on our mailing list?” or “Would you like to donate to our cause?”

Then wait.  Quietly. Do not say another word until the other person says something.  I’m serious.  See how I’m writing short sentences without commas for emphasis.

This is shocking, but some people actually think before they speak!  And this thinking takes time.  If we ask a question and then answer that question for a person, or don’t give them time to think, we’re being disrespectful.  It’s hard, but get used to five seconds of silence.

Communication is a two-way street, so you need to close with some sort of call to action. If you’re just talking at someone and it appears there’s no reason, you’re just blowing hot air.  The call to action gives what you’ve been saying a purpose. 

STEP 3: Create a closing call to action question.

I always consider an elevator pitch a work in progress, but here is the current NonBoardBoard elevator pitch:

“Have you ever been in a position as a leader where you were expected to know everything, but didn’t? (pause)  NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to attend a NonBoardBoard meeting? (wait for response)”

Every time I’ve asked the “Seinfeld” question to a leader, I get a “yes!”  The next sentence tells what we do.  The following sentence tells how we do it.  Then there’s a little bragging, but it helps people to know we’ve been doing this a while and there’s some reach.  Finally, there is a call to action.  

Even if I had to drop the ‘how we do it’ sentence and ‘brag’ sentence, a person would still get the idea based on the lead-in question and what we do.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitches.

Your elevator pitch should change depending on who you’re talking to.  The one above is for a nonprofit leader who we want to come to an NBB event.  Here is one to an ‘influencer’, or a person who might know nonprofit leaders we want to reach.

“Have you ever known a nonprofit leader with a huge heart but who didn’t quite have all the business skills to match? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you be willing to refer (that person) to us? (wait for response)”

You’ll notice that the body stays the same, but the Seinfeld question and call to action change.

Here’s the version for someone we’re interested in having speak or write for NonBoardBoard.

“Have you ever wanted to give back to several nonprofits at once, but without a long term commitment? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders who don’t have all the business skill fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to speak at a NonBoardBoard event, or write an article for (wait for response)”

Again, it’s really just the questions that change.  NonBoardBoard always does the same thing, but how people engage with us changes, and this is reflected in the emotionally-connected question and the call to action.

Here are the three steps in review:

STEP 1: Write a “Seinfeld” question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will also lead to what you actually do.  

STEP 2: Write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third, in descending order.

STEP 3: Write a closing call to action question.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitch for different audiences.

I would love to see your “Seinfeld” pitches in action!  Can you record your “Seinfeld” elevator pitch, post it online, and share the link with us by posting below?  Thanks so much!

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