Non-profit worker suffering from burnout

5 ways non-profit workers can prevent burnout

With limited budgets, minimal resources and small staff teams, it’s no surprise that employee burnout is a common issue in the non-profit sector. And with increasing demand for charitable services across the country, burnout is becoming even more prevalent.

A recent poll from CanadaHelps that surveyed more than 2,900 charity professionals found that found 57 per cent of respondents said they could not keep up with the increasing need for help. This resulted in concerns around burnout, with nearly 60 per cent of charities surveyed reporting the same number of paid staff despite more service demands. Furthermore, 15 per cent of charities polled had fewer staff since the pandemic started.

If the non-profit sector wants to continue to serve its clientele effectively and efficiently, preventing burnout needs to be a top priority. Here are five simple steps non-profit workers can take to help prevent burnout.

Reduce time-consuming activities

Stay on mission by reminding yourself regularly why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Start taking note of the time-consuming tasks you complete, like attending meetings, replying to emails and communicating with coworkers. Then decide what’s most productive and what’s not.

Look for ways to reduce the amount of time spent on these types of activities or opt out of certain ones entirely.

Make projects more manageable

We all have never-ending to-do lists, which only add to the feelings of stress and burnout. Try breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks for big projects. Once a smaller task is complete, you may get the motivation you need to continue working on the rest.

Be sure to prioritize your tasks, too. When you do, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed by the urgency of work. Delegate low-priority work to capable interns or volunteers so that you can focus on larger tasks.

Prioritize self-care

How often do you intentionally rest each week – without checking an inbox or voicemail?

Not getting enough sleep can quickly lead to health problems, forcing you to stay in bed. Get a quality amount of sleep each day, and take time for breaks throughout the day. Something as small as drinking a cup of coffee in the sunshine or taking a short walk during lunch can do wonders for self-care!

Have a Support System

Sometimes a listening ear can help prevent burnout. Talk to colleagues or your manager if you need help prioritizing projects or dealing with the stress of your workload.

If you manage staff, make it well known to them that you’re all in this together and that they can come to you if they ever need help with dealing with tasks and stress. Try to be there for your employees when they need to vent and offer solutions to stress-inducing tasks.

Set an example

If you’re in management and employee burnout is an issue in your non-profit, you need to lead by example.

If you don’t want your staff to send emails after work or while on vacation, then you shouldn’t be, either!

Set a good example for having clear boundaries between work and personal time. Plenty of helpful apps and tools exist if you’re finding it difficult to remain disciplined. Find ones that work well with your needs regarding email regulation and filtering work-related calls after hours.


We’re already working hard as non-profit employees; we don’t need the extra challenge of dealing with burnout, too. Engaging in learning is one way to strengthen an organization and help prevent burnout. Our various free programs and initiatives, like our free Stress Management course, can help you or your employees gain new skills and become more engaged and fulfilled at work. Find out more by visiting our website.