People join the social impact sector because they’re passionate about making a difference in their community and are driven by the meaning of their work.

But let’s face it, this work isn’t always easy. I’m sure if you’re reading this, at one point (or multiple), you’ve felt like you’ve hit the end of your rope. 

The question is, how do you source your passion in those hard moments?

Consciously finding love and joy in your nonprofit work could be the answer.

Step 1 – Keep Your Work Realistic 

As a leader in the nonprofit industry, it’s easy to feel accountable for everything your organization can accomplish. So, it’s important to be honest with yourself about what your organization can realistically handle.

You can’t be everything to everyone, and neither can your organization. And that’s OK. 

It’s so important to stay focused on your mission and vision because…

A) You will be able to better serve your clients in your area of focus
B) Not doing everything, everywhere, all at once allows you to maintain joy, happiness, and, let’s face it, your sanity.

Step 2 – Take Care of Yourself 

While you might be busy helping everyone else, it’s crucial that you don’t neglect your own needs. 

This is especially important for someone in a leadership position. Your relationship with rest and self-care is modeled to your entire organization, and your behavior feeds into your work culture whether you mean it to or not. 

If you’re not showing up as your best self, how can you expect others to?

Remember to fill your cup first and make space for what you enjoy, not just around the holidays but consistently. 

For example, my priority this year is my relationships. Spending time with my people brings me joy, and that, in turn, makes me a better leader.

What’s your priority?

Step 3 – Actually Take Downtime

We have a bad habit in this sector… And it’s checking our emails while on vacation. 

Stop doing that. Really.

Before you go offline, plan to stay offline. Turn your out-of-office replies on or have someone take over your work while you’re away.

You are doing life-saving work, and that can be exhausting. 

When you’re off – be entirely off. Take that time for yourself to recuperate and recharge. The world needs you at your best, and that’s impossible if you’re catching up on reports during the few days you have to yourself. 

Step 4 – Remember to Have Fun 

The work you do is so important. And it’s taxing. Both can be true at the same time.

Remember to find joy in the little things and cultivate a positive organizational culture that helps remind you why you do it.

Zappos is an excellent example of company culture. They live by their core values, employees have the flexibility in how they support the company, and they have fun. The result is a billion-dollar business supported by invested and passionate people. 

What would it look like at your organization to include love as one of your core values? Or fun? Joy? Ease?

What if you started your Zoom calls with a check-in question like what’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Or what was your favorite book as a little kid?

Or what if you went bowling as a team once a month? Or hired a skilled facilitator who could help you build both professional skills and your relationships?

I often hear nonprofit leaders say they don’t have time for these things. You do; you just aren’t planning properly. 

Take those 5 minutes to check in at the beginning of a call. Book that team lunch once a month instead of scarfing down a sandwich at your desk between meetings. You are allowed to have fun, and your organization will be better off for it. 

Next Steps

You are doing great work, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of your well-being. 

Following these steps can help you find love for your work again or help you appreciate it even more.

Don’t forget that it’s more than possible to find joy in this work. Instead of always cultivating happiness for others, remember to do the same for yourself and your team. 

💌 We’d love to know, what’s one way you bring love and joy in your nonprofit sector? Share with us in the comments!