Volunteer Burnout: 5 Ways to Avoid this Common Pitfall

Image of a women avoiding burnout by relaxing in the sun

It takes a servant’s heart to be a volunteer and we love that about those who commit to I Matter Too as mentors, team leaders, fundraisers, recruiters, and on our events teams.  We also know that balancing life and your commitment serving can be tiring if boundaries aren’t in place to protect you from volunteer burnout.

Here are 5 tips for avoiding volunteer burnout and staying in your role long-term:

Avoid Volunteer Burnout by Scheduling Regular Check-ups

According to this article by Nonprofit Hub you need to get ahead of burnout by having regular checkups.  This is crucial for all volunteers and leaders. We ask our team leaders to meet one-on-one with three of their mentors each month, for example.  This ensures that every one of our mentors is getting individual time with their leader regularly.  This is your chance to talk to your leader about stressors and worries you’re having!  Also: ask for help.  If you’re encountering a struggle with your child or even with the guardian, parent, or foster parent of your child – ask for advice.  Your team leader is a resource for you to help you avoid frustration.

Team leaders we have a  new place for you!  Starting in July we will be having a monthly meeting for our team leaders on Monday nights while your new mentors are getting trained in orientation.  This will provide a place for you to ask other team leaders for help or advice in dealing with the leaders on your team.

Our bi-monthly call is also a great resource for every volunteer and team member.  We leave time at the end of every call for questions and the floor is open to you.  Take advance of this time and resource.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout through Quiet Time

Matthew 11:28-30 says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’

Ultimately as believers we know that our rest is best found in Christ. If you sense that you’re headed towards burning out be sure you’re spending time with your Savior, daily.  One of my favorite verses during a season I experienced overcoming burnout came from Psalm 61:2-2  ‘From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe’. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  This can only be done through time with Lord.  

Avoid Volunteer Burnout with Accountability

Accountability is a popular word amongst Christians but even the business world appreciates the benefits of accountability in avoiding burnout.  Lifehack listed this as a way to avoid burnout citing that you sometimes need others to hold you to your commitment to rest, balance, or manage your time more efficiently.  This is a great way for you to support other leaders on your team.  Regularly ask each other if they are spending time in word and if they are carving out time to rest.  We suggest that you find a team member to be accountable too because spouses and family members are too close to the situation to give accurate feedback.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout through Efficiency

One way to avoid volunteer burnout is to manage your time efficiently.  Next week, we will address this in detail.  The experts agree though, how you manage your time directly impacts how much you can accomplish without feeling stressed, exhausted, or completely wiped out.  If you feel yourself burning out, sit and consider where you’re ‘wasting’ time and what could be done by someone else or not done at all.  Often times when we truly consider the tasks we place on ourselves we realize that some do not need done and more still could be done by someone else.  Take a long, honest look at your plate and don’t be afraid to involve a team member!  We can usually advise others better than we can ourselves.

Avoid Volunteer Burnout with Rest

We can all pinpoint times in our lives (or perhaps while parenting) when exhaustion gets the best of us.  In order to avoid burnout, make sure that you are getting rest.  The most basic form of this being sleep.  Don’t buy into the lie that sleeping less will help you accomplish more.  You need sleep and rested people can accomplish more in less time.  Also, unplug and disengage.  Take a walk without your phone.  Spend a morning by the the pool.  Commute without a podcast, radio, or phone call.  If we’re going to teach our children about their emotional self – we need to care for ours, as well!

At I Matter Too we love our volunteers.  We are blessed with an incredible group of people that serve in each role. Valuing our volunteers we also want to help them avoid burning out so they can serve God, their families, and I Matter Too with passion for many years to come.  We couldn’t serve the orphaned and abused children of Florida & Georgia without you so we need you fresh and healthy.