4 Tips for Avoiding Volunteer Burnout

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Tracy Tucker

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As an association executive who has worked with many different associations, the question of how to avoid volunteer burnout often comes up. While I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question and what works for one association may not work for another, here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Set clear and realistic expectations for committee members and monitor to ensure they don’t go too far off mission. Their initial enthusiasm can often lead to burnout because they try to do too much with an unrealistic time frame. This one is the most important to me. Committees sometimes end up doing work that wasn’t needed, duplicative of other efforts,  try to do too much with too little, etc.
  2. Always seek new committee members and make sure veteran members are mentoring and sharing the workload. Otherwise the same people continue to do the work and burnout is a guarantee.
  3. Make sure committee members are recognized and thanked for their contributions. This can happen at annual meetings, in a newsletter, small token gift or perhaps a hand written note from the Executive Director or President to at least the committee chairs.
  4. Make sure the organization isn’t asking too much of certain volunteers. Often, those who deliver the best results get asked to do the most. Be cautious about overworking your volunteers so you can make sure they will have the necessary energy for a project you really need them on.
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