Giving Compass' Take:

• Ratna Gill, writing for Medium, discusses the burden that many racial justice leaders face with exhaustion in their everyday work lives. Gill advises on how we can support and hone the skills of the people working in social justice spaces. 

• How is social justice work different from other types of nonprofit work? What are the challenges that are unique to this field?

• Read about how family foundations can champion racial justice. 

The social sector’s turnover rate is 19 percent annually, while the average annual turnover in the private sector is about 4 percent. There are, of course, a number of structural reasons for this — lower salaries, fewer benefits, etc. — but the role of exhaustion and burnout cannot be overlooked as we examine why social sector organizations have a hard time retaining their employees.

Theodore Miller at the City of San Francisco calls this phenomenon the “I’m tired” effect, and Tawanna Black of the Center for Economic Inclusion refers to the solution as “radical self-care.”

There are no easy answers to this exhaustion, but I want to share four principles that the foundation I used to work for kept in mind as we crafted one of our meetings of city leaders working on social change, in this case by increasing employment opportunities for people of color in U.S. cities.

  1. Empower people to tell their own stories. Too often, meetings with grantees revert into the nitty-gritty of reporting and compliance. This doesn’t leverage the true power of having everyone in the room together — dry data and details are easily shared over email, but stories have an ability to bring the work to life and unlock our ability to co-create solutions, especially with everyone in the same space.
  2. Remember the importance of arts & culture for sustaining social change work. Interspersing art into an agenda also allows time for individuals to think about the work we do from a regenerative place of reflection, to increase the emotional connection while lessening the emotional burden that come from working for social change.
  3. Listen and learn about racial equity with a place-based perspective. While art was crucial in highlighting the similarities felt across places we worked, a panel of racial justice advocates and activists reminded us that our work does not look the same everywhere.
  4. Pause and intentionally focus on wellness.

Read the full article about racial justice leaders by Ratna Gill at Medium