Simple tips for managing nonprofit stressMissionBox co-founder and CEO Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk tackles the stress and pressures that commonly come with working for a nonprofit in her new column Self-care: Simple Tips for Managing Nonprofit Stress. We invite MissionBox readers to share their ideas and responses, which may be published here as well.
The opinions offered here are based on the author's personal nonprofit experience and may not reflect the opinions of MissionBox, Inc. These opinions should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for professional legal consultation.
As a former nonprofit executive director and current CEO, I’ve always had an unspoken rule — a rule that everyone knows. If you have a hair appointment (man or woman) we’ll work around it. Priorities!
If you think this is frivolous, I urge you to reconsider. I’ve spent a career watching nonprofit professionals give 1000 percent to mission, working nights and weekends to get the job done, whatever that may be. Taking time for a simple thing like a haircut or a "little color touch up" can make you feel great because you look and feel your best.
I’ve never known any staff member who misused this privilege. I only see the smile when someone leaves the office to keep that long scheduled appointment for hair or nails or skin care. They come back on time, refreshed and feeling good, with an even bigger smile.
There are many who will criticize me for this viewpoint. After all, when we’ve signed up to help people or animals or the environment, what does it matter what we caregivers look like? What kind of shallow, capitalist, brainwashed people are we? News flash — unashamedly shallow, just once in a great while. And who deserves a little pampering more than someone who gives 90 percent of their life in service to others?
And if all this doesn’t matter to you, that’s great. Ignore this article. Most mortals, however, have some small (or larger) hint of vanity or at least some small desire to look as fresh and attractive as they can. And that may mean self-care that doesn’t always include a yoga mat or a gym. Of course, health is important, but so is beauty — whatever that means to each of us.
I’m going to keep supporting my team members to be a little selfish and shine it up.
CEO, MissionBox Inc.
What do our nonprofit readers think? We would love to hear about your own ways of handling nonprofit stress. Email us at editorial@m
Robert P. says ... I like this idea. Not necessarily the specifics of hair care, but the issue of clashing priorities. In spite of what some managers would have us believe, we don't really live to work. Stuff like mandatory (and usually unpaid) overtime, "face time" and feeling pressure to stay in the office until 7:30 or later, offer a wealth of subjects to be explored.
I knew two managers, one male and one female, and my kid brother worked for a third, who were single and literally had NOTHING ELSE in their lives but work. Unfortunately, they demanded this same devotion from employees. Five p.m. meant not the end of the day, but merely the beginning of the day's second round of work. One even scheduled a staff meeting on Christmas Eve. One I knew scheduled a mandatory training session on Super Bowl Sunday and when I pointed this out replied, "Your point?"
I recommend a great book by a psychologist friend, "My Therapist Is Making Me Nuts!: A Guide To Avoiding Life's Obstacles" in which he discusses the issue of clashing priorities and ways of dealing with life's many challenges.