We are entering the “season of giving.”  Statements like “It is better to give than to receive” abound. Holiday traditions warm our hearts.

While working out this morning – trying to prepare for that “extra” gift this season can bring- I read an article by Suzie Orman (Success December issue). While her advice focused on giving and spending money during this season, I was struck by how it applies to nonprofit executive directors and board members. See what you think.

Suzie says we tend to confuse giving and true generosity. In her view, and I agree with her, generosity exists “only if the act is kind to the recipient and the giver – meaning the gift doesn’t deplete the giver’s resources . . .” In my experience, nonprofit leaders give, and give, and give – of themselves and their personal resources-be that time, treasure, talent etc. Is this you? Or, do you meet Suzie’s criteria for true generosity?

There is too much overwhelm and burnout in our sector – too much giving that depletes the givers’ resources. So – what can be done about it? Adapting Suzie’s advice, here are three pointers that may help:

  1. Determine the right amount to give based on your own needs. This assumes, of course, that you have spent time reflecting on what your needs are! I encourage you to do that and begin to define the limits around how and what you can give to your nonprofit work.
  1. Have and protect your reserves. This is relevant to you personally and the nonprofit you serve. We all know the importance of emergency funds, but focus on your personal reserves (time, talent, treasure, energy . . .) too. Your sustainability matters to both those you serve and those who love you. Ensuring you have “reserves” to get through turbulent times and remain resilient is an important act of generosity.
  1. Create a lasting legacy. Are you modeling sustainability and resilience for future nonprofit leaders? Are you moving forward with energy, inspiring others? Or are you fizzling out?

I’d like to know what you think of these pointers. What do you do to keep up your reserves and avoid “depletion” of that most important asset – you!