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Martyrdom in the non-profit world

April 2018

I am seeing increasingly distressed comments from American colleagues about the (also increasingly) ungodly hours they work for their non-profit organisations. 

My thoughts, posted during a recent back-and-forth on a marvellous Facebook site called Non-Profit Happy Hour:

Martyrs get what they deserve: martyrdom.

You do not owe any organization your private life, health, and happiness — and the longer you live, the more you will discover that your loyalty is never repaid, except perhaps in some good friendships and references.  The first day of any of my full-time senior development jobs, I always found out when lunch was and made a point of disappearing at the appointed hour.  I got all of my work done and probably a lot more, and outlasted most of the other staff.

A wonderful NPO in Massachusetts where I worked as Director of Development insisted on waged and salaried staff taking comp time within the two-week pay period.  RESPOND, Inc. fostered a productive, caring environment for team members doing tough domestic violence work.  The former Executive Director and I are still close.

Philanthropic organizations need to model philanthropy inside their walls, as well as to the outside world!


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