5 Tips for Fundraiser Self-Care and How to Avoid Burnout

Feeling overwhelmed by all of the challenges we face as nonprofit professionals, especially in the age of Covid? Here are some self-care tips that will help you avoid that burnout feeling.

Key Takeaways

Here are 5 practical suggestions to help you avoid burnout.

  • Take your vacation days
  • Set some goals for your care
  • Be flexible in your methods but not your end goal
  • Don’t just do the fun parts, do the hard parts too
  • Make some room for some not-so-guilty pleasures


Hi there, I’m Jessica Cloud, and I’m your Fundraising Success Coach for Humanitru. Are you feeling frazzled and stretched far too thin trying to fundraise during the age of Covid? Well, you’re not the only one. Stay tuned, and we’ll discuss some strategies for self-care to help you avoid that burned out feeling. I know, I know. Self-care can sound like such a buzzword, but really it’s extremely important. I’d like to share my favorite definition of self-care with you.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s really easy to overlook. And, it’s key to sustaining good relationship with yourself and with others. Now, notice you have to do it deliberately. It’s something that you have to plan for, schedule, make it part of your habits and routines.

Now, I know this is very difficult to even think about taking on one more thing right now. The nonprofit world is under a great deal of stress, and our roles can be extremely stressful. Even before the pandemic, in August of 2019, the Chronicle of Philanthropy showed that 30% of fundraisers were preparing to leave the nonprofit field entirely in the next two years, and 84% of all fundraisers in that study said they felt “tremendous pressure to succeed.”

So what are we to do? Well, obviously part of what we need to do is advocate for more reasonable goals and more resources and boundaries around time and work and work-life balance. Absolutely, but we’re going to need resiliency in order to do that. And, that’s where self-care comes in.

So, I would like to challenge you to think about taking better and better care of yourself while you complete your goals for your employer. Now, taking care of yourself will help you, but it will also help your family, your community, and your work, and your organization you work for.

So, here are my five tips for avoiding burnout by practicing good self-care.

The first one is take your vacation days. Now, I know that sounds absolutely pie-in-the-sky for some of you out there, but I would encourage you to try to take a long weekend here and there. If you can’t do any of that, advocate for one day a week where you have no meetings whatsoever. You wouldn’t believe how much your stress level could be reduced if you have at least one day a week where you’re not expected to be in meetings and going, going, going.

So, you can set an out-of-office reply that says, on Fridays, I attempt to avoid all meetings and will be checking email only a couple of times, and this you can say this is to catch up on follow-up for your donors or to create content for your organization. Whatever it is, carve out that time to help yourself catch up and have at least one day a week where you’re working at a slower pace.

My second suggestion would be to set some goals for your personal self-care. So, whether that’s carving out time for exercise, meditation, yoga, improving your diet, and putting in more healthy foods… whatever that is, and you can decide whatever it is, but take some steps
in that direction and set some goals because it’s really important to do those perhaps not fun things for yourself but that are going to ultimately help you function at your best.

Now, you can also track and adjust those accordingly, and that’s my third tip is to really be flexible, be very flexible in your methods, but not about your end goal, which is to create the most resilient you that you can, so if walking 10,000 steps a day is not doing it for you, try to go for 5,000 for a week, or a month, or change your goal entirely if you like to bicycle instead.

Okay, now number four… don’t just do the fun parts of self-care. It’s not just about bubble baths. It is also about, you know, really setting limits for yourself and holding those boundaries. So, perhaps you can’t leave the office at five o’clock every day, but you can make a commitment to always be home for bedtime for your kids. So, having those, you know, little sacred parts of your schedule where you’re setting those those boundaries. It might not be fun in the short-term, but it pays off in the long run.

And, my last thing that I will say is make some room for what I call not so guilty pleasures.
So, the things that maybe you don’t allow yourself to do as much. So, maybe it is taking a bubble bath? Maybe it is listening to show tunes? That’s one of my not so guilty pleasures.And, you know, whatever that is, carving out even 20 minutes a weekto doing something that is just for you, just for your own enjoyment.

I also study languages on Duolingo, so I take 5 to 10 minutes a day to do that. And, that’s actually really helped me during Covid to keep my perspective and kind of look ahead to the days when we’ll be able to travel again.

So, I really hope that you enjoyed these tips to avoid burnout and practice better self-care to build our resiliency in the nonprofit industry. It’s so important, and stay tuned for next month’s video from me, Jessica Cloud, your Fundraising Success Coach.

About Jessica Cloud

With over 20 years of fundraising experience, Jessica has worked for the Starr King School for the Ministry, The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, The University of South Carolina, RuffaloCODY, and the Libertarian National Committee. As a consultant, Jessica provides her fundraising services to nonprofits and higher education organizations. You can find her at Real Deal Fundraising.

Jessica Cloud, CFRE, MA
Fundraising Success Coach


Humanitru clients experience an average active donor growth of 69%