Preventing Advocacy Burnout: 7 Tips and Best Practices

Working hard to support a political or social cause you are passionate about can be incredibly rewarding, but at the same time, the daily grind of advocacy can also lead to burnout on your part and that of your volunteer team. With that said, you must be aware of the signs of burnout and proactively prevent its risks by using a combination of strategies and best practices.

What Is Advocacy Burnout?

Burnout occurs due to prolonged, excessive mental, physical, and/or emotional stress that is most often related to your job. Nevertheless, parenting, college, and advocacy can also cause burnout.

Advocacy burnout, in particular, occurs when you or a team member experience exhaustion as a result of feeling constantly swamped with work. That said, (advocacy) burnout is more than acute fatigue; it is a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion that cannot be alleviated by a single night’s rest or other short-term interventions. 

Signs of Burnout 

Failing to address your advocacy team’s sources of stress and exasperation can cause you all to begin exhibiting signs and symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Negativity
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased productivity
  • Frustration
  • Absenteeism

Recognizing these signs is critical to keeping yourself and your team motivated; the sooner you identify a case of burnout, the better your odds of reversing course. If left unchecked, advocacy burnout can drastically reduce the efficacy of your initiative and lead to further challenges, like volunteer attrition. 

How to Prevent Advocacy Burnout: 7 Tips

Once advocacy burnout takes hold, it can wreak havoc on your organization, but the good news is that there are several great ways to prevent or reduce burnout before it boils over. 

Here are a few options to consider:

Set Realistic Goals

Whether you are starting a campaign or building a grassroots movement from the ground up, the entire process can feel like a never-ending slog. One great way to alleviate that sentiment is to break your core mission into smaller, attainable milestones. 

For instance, instead of setting one monumental goal, like getting new legislation passed, start with something more achievable, like logging 100 volunteer hours as a team or earning $5,000 in donations. Setting several of these milestones will help keep you and your team informed of your progress at regular intervals.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is more than just a buzzword; it’s a critical tool for preventing all forms of burnout. With that said, ensure you are getting enough rest, eating well, engaging in physical activity, and pursuing the things that you enjoy. Encourage your teammates to do the same. 

In fact, you can even engage in these activities together, such as by getting together for a morning yoga session or a jog through the park. Supporting one another’s well-being is a great team-building exercise and can help your group bond over things aside from your main advocacy mission. 

Cultivate a Supportive Culture

Branching off that last point regarding team-building, the importance of a supportive culture cannot be overstated; when someone is feeling overwhelmed, they should be able to lean on the community they’re a part of for strength. 

As such, it’s important that you surround yourself with fellow advocates who understand the challenges involved in your shared work and can, therefore, provide emotional support and practical advice. 

Delegate

Remember, you are just as susceptible to advocacy burnout as your fellow team members, especially if you try to tackle every issue alone.

With that in mind, learning to delegate tasks amongst others in your group can help distribute the workload more evenly, reduce your stress levels, and prevent fatigue. It can also empower others and cultivate a more resilient and capable advocacy team over time, as your teammates will see that you trust them with important tasks.  

Take Breaks and Disconnect

Regular breaks are essential for mental health and productivity, so periodically disconnecting from your advocacy work, especially from digital platforms, can help refresh your perspective and reduce the risk of burnout. Use the time to engage in activities unrelated to your cause, allowing your mind and body to rest. 

Once again, it is vital that you have a strong team around you. While you disconnect, designate someone you trust to handle your normal responsibilities. Make sure they can hold down the group so that you can truly unplug for a couple of days. 

Stay Informed

Staying informed is crucial for effective advocacy; having the right data at your fingertips will help you maximize the efficiency of your outreach efforts, thereby reducing your workload and mitigating feelings of futility as you achieve meaningful objectives with less time, effort, and monetary resources. 

That said, there is a fine line between staying informed and overloading yourself with information; limit your news consumption to reliable sources, allocate specific times to stay updated and review information, and — above all — avoid doom scrolling. 

Engage in Reflection

Lastly, if you find yourself feeling discouraged, take a moment to reflect on your work, motivations, and the impact of your advocacy. A little reflection, be it through journaling, meditation, or simply discussing your progress with peers, can provide valuable insights and rejuvenate your passion.

When reflecting on your advocacy process, it’s great to focus on the good, but don’t shy away from tough topics or failures, either, as evaluating past missteps can help you avoid repeating them in the future. Reflection is all about growth and refocusing on the task at hand — affecting positive change in your community.

Leveraging Data Tools to Mitigate Advocacy Burnout

Quality data and campaign management technologies can drastically reduce the workload on you and your team, allowing you to attack objectives with focus and data-guided insights, thereby increasing your efficiency and productivity. 

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of political data and advocacy technology, connect with Aristotle today. As a leader in political data, we provide advocacy groups, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations with the insights and resources they need to change the world for the better.


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