Burnout prevention in NGO Sector – a Community-Led Event by City of Women

The topic of burnout is being explored in joint projects of two NGO Academy member organizations, City of Women (Ljubljana) and Common Zone (Zagreb) since 2019, which is where the idea for the Community-Led Event was born. The idea of the event was to share knowledge on burnout and some tools to prevent it developed within the Burnout Aid project led by our Polish partner Culture Shock and funded by the Erasmus+ program.

As soon as the invitation to the CLE was published our assumption that the topic will be of interest to our peers of the NGO Academy was confirmed. The slots were filled in the first few hours. Representatives of NGOs from Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Hungary, Moldova and Austria working in the fields of social work, education, health, advocacy, gender equality, LGBTIQ+, human rights, youth work, child protection, culture and capacity building have travelled to Ljubljana to attend the event that took place in Ljubljana on June 16th.

The event was structured around three parts. In the morning, we started by busting some of the most common myths about burnout in organizational context, we have discussed how to recognize it and how we can address it not only on individual but also on organizational level. Participants were introduced some tools but have also shared some of the practices they have developed in their own organizations and might be useful for their peers. We even got creative and made some reminders in form of a self-care bank to take home.

In the afternoon we were joined by members of S.O.S Telephone Slovenia team. They shared their mechanism of supervision offered to their councillors and volunteers who work directly with victims of violence. Their supervisor joined the presentation and explained in detail how the mechanism works and what the organization should pay the attention to when introducing it as a practice in their own organization. The topic turned out to be of interest to many present organizations and lively discussion with many questions raised after the initial presentation.

The last part of the day was dedicated to further exchange between the participants and the discussion about the needs in the organizations. The most mentioned needs were the need for more tools for teams and individuals, workshops for teams and leaders and more awareness raising about the issue in general. To share some tips collected: weekly meetings for teams where well-being is discussed, happy Fridays, celebration of success, end of projects and birthdays, rotating meeting moderation, time limit on meetings, limiting the communication flow outside working hours, team buildings and retreats, protocols for resolving issues in the team. We have also discussed and shared some practices about the possibilities on how to secure funds for burnout prevention actions, such as supervision and team retreats.

We ended the day with confirmation that this was a very much needed event, and the topic is of relevance to the non-profit sector. Despite the recognition that we are all faced with the challenge of burnout in our organizations, we ended on a positive note with a conclusion that even small steps make a difference, and it is important to make time to discuss burnout in the team!