Healthy, Happy Nonprofit

Hi everyone!

Thanks to @tobiaseigen, yesterday @jinyounglee , @ashleyvanwaes , and I attended a talk hosted by Global Giving with Beth Kanter, the author of, “The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout”. Her talk focused on the importance of nonprofits embedding health and wellness as a core part of organizational culture to achieve greater impact in the world.

Here’s an excerpt from Kanter’s book:

In the face of the challenging work that nonprofits tackle every day, leaders and staff need to be unapologetic about self-care. Nonprofit staff and leaders are often driven to do more with less and to keep going no matter what. But what they need to remember is by practicing self-care, they are not only taking care of themselves but also taking care of the organization’s mission and all of its stakeholders.

For those who are interested, you can view a Facebook Live video of her talk here or download our compiled notes on key highlights and takeaways: 2017.04.05-BethKanterSpeakingEventNotes.pdf (70.0 KB)

You can also click here to read our compiled notes on key highlights and takeaways [LINK]( to Facebook Live video of Beth Kanter’s talk at Global Giving

Beth Kanter’s book: The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout

Goal: “Self-care to we-care”

  • We must make health + wellness a part of how we work, not a luxury to enjoy after work
  • There is an abundance of research on the negative effects of poor work-life balance on organizational/staff performance AND research on the positive effects of self-care on organizational/staff impact and performance (Beth cited many studies at the beginning of her talk and this is also covered in the first couple chapters of her book)

What is “burn-out”?

  • Emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion resulting from too many demands, few resources, and little recovery time

What is a personal craziness index?

  • A clear sign or symptom that burn-out is likely to happen when you start dropping things related to your personal life in order to cater to your work obligations
  • Examples of personal craziness index: having dishes left in the sink, forgetfulness (forgetting keys), etc.

Self-care to We-care Recommendations + Tips:

  • Get a real alarm clock
  • Fight the urge to check your phone before sleeping
  • Invest in a standing desk/makeshift standing desk
  • 20 min standing - 8 min sitting - 2 min stretches
  • Take calls standing up
  • Get a standing pad
  • Do not eat at your desk
  • Eat for 5 minutes, take 20 min walking breaks
  • Institute group walk meetings/group walk breaks outside
  • Set “electronics-free” zones/rooms in your work places where you surround yourself with plants, can have face-to-face conversations
  • Leave your phone when going out for walks
  • Download the app “Moment” to see how many times a day you check your phone/which apps you are spending time on
  • Tune out noise/interruptions
  • Meditate
  • Plan in advance that you will be completely offline
  • Do not use vacations as time to “catch up” on work
  • Do not bring work materials

Culture-change is hugely important. You have to be intentional about creating a work culture that prioritizes WELL-BEING within the workplace.

Ways to do this:

  • Leaders need to model self-care and employees need to be engaged in shifting the organizational culture to promote self-care
  • Wellbeing needs to be embedded in culture – for example, employees should be encouraged (and time set aside) for creating individual self-care plans
  • Set policy and guidelines that show the workplace appreciates and cares about employee well-being, including a policy around expectations for work “after hours” and lunch breaks
  • Set up little “nudges and cues” throughout the office (e.g. posters that encourage healthy walks, healthy eating habits in the kitchen, posters in bathroom stalls, nice decor, plants, etc.)
  • Establish communal standing desks
I am planning on ordering Beth's book and would like to invite others to join the 3 of us in thinking through ways that we can start to incorporate health and wellness practices into our daily lives at Namati.

We would love to hear how other Namati staff and Network members incorporate health and wellness practices, please comment below!


Olá a todos!

Graças a @tobiaseigen, ontem @jinyounglee, @ashleyvanwaes, e eu assisti a uma palestra hospedada por Global Giving com Beth Kanter, autor de “The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Estratégias de Impacto sem Burnout”. Sua palestra focalizou a importância de organizações sem fins lucrativos incorporando saúde e bem-estar como parte central da cultura organizacional para alcançar maior impacto no mundo.

Aqui está um trecho do livro de Kanter:

Em face do trabalho desafiador que organizações sem fins lucrativos abordar todos os dias, os líderes e funcionários precisam de ser unapologetic sobre auto-caso. Pessoal sem fins lucrativos e líderes são muitas vezes levados a fazer mais com menos e para continuar, não importa o quê. Mas o que eles precisam lembrar é praticar o auto-caso, eles não estão apenas cuidando de si mesmos, mas também cuidando da missão da organização e de todas as partes interessadas.

Para aqueles que estão interessados, você pode ver um vídeo do Facebook Live de sua conversa aqui, e nossas notas compiladas sobre destaques e takeaways aqui.

Estou planejando encomendar o livro de Beth e gostaria de convidar outras pessoas a se juntarem a nós três para pensar de maneiras que podemos começar a incorporar as práticas de saúde e bem-estar em nossas vidas diárias em Namati.

Gostaríamos muito de saber como outros funcionários da Namati e membros da Rede incorporam práticas de saúde e bem-estar, comente abaixo!


I like it, and would be interested in supporting.

(Is it self-case, or self-care? I haven’t heard of self-case before)


@marenabrinkhurst great! We’re still figuring out next steps, but would love your participation :blush:

And it’s self-care (not self-case, not sure where you saw that, but it’s a typo).


I love this. So glad the three of you went to represent us at Beth’s talk! :sunny: With Mia’s permission, I moved her topic to public community discussions for the benefit of all members. I also found and fixed the typo in the quote from Beth’s book. Nice catch, Marena.

I actually listened in remotely during the presentation yesterday. I’ve heard Beth talk about self-care before and have seen her living out her message at NTEN nonprofit technology conferences as she disappeared for frequent walks and had hundreds of attendees all doing stretches and wiggly motions during her talks. I am fascinated that her message has not changed and has only become more refined over the years, and perhaps more urgent. She’s helping change the world for the better by helping nonprofit people become more happy and, by logical extension, more productive.

The first thing I did when the presentation ended was go out and buy myself a new alarm clock. I will set up a charging station somewhere else in the house, not next to my bed, where I will leave my phone when I go to bed. I already make my kids give up their devices when they go to bed - I should do the same myself!

I did not know that the fitbit actually nudges you with a vibration on a regular basis to get up and take 250 steps - that was also an interesting bit of information, so I am now also considering getting a fitbit for myself. We all have a tendency to just stay at our computers and keep working for long stretches of time - taking time to take some steps (even if it means pacing back and forth) can obviously be a huge help. Setting an alarm to remind oneself to do it is a good idea.


Beth Kanter has also shared with us her resource page, which contains several links to blogs and articles related to workplace wellbeing. There’s some great reading material here!

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Thanks for sharing, @miaschmid. Love the ‘personal craziness’ index! I keep thinking of doing 15 min of yoga in the afternoons (I have an app with short sessions) but have yet to do it once. Maybe this post will motivate me. Standing up while taking calls is a good idea. I would love a standing desk, but there is no room for one in my tiny, shared condo. Standing calls is a good way to still be able to incorporate less sitting.


Thanks for starting this off - I saw Beth speak in London years ago - she gets around, she is really good! I’d be interested in thinking how we can practice better self care - in the Oakland office there are free yoga classes we can take twice a week (provided by our building for all offices) and I can safely say I am always exponentially more productive after I make time to go to this class. We have also set up a monthly happy hour so we make time to socialise as an office which helps my own self :slight_smile:

The folks over at google are looking at whether there is an algorithm for happiness?


Beth’s latest blog titled, “Mastering the Art of Work/Life Balance in a Digital World”, an interview with Meico Marquette Whitlock, the Founder and CEO of Mindful Techie, has some great ideas and resources for those of us interested in promoting work/life balance. This blog discusses specific strategies for how to avoid digital distractions.

A couple of key takeaways that may be of interest to others include:

  1. One of the keys to managing technology-related stress is to have a clear sense of what our intentions are and what we’re trying to accomplish in a given moment. If you don’t have clear priorities, your attention is more likely to be hijacked by your email or some other distraction. One simple tool for managing the distraction of email is to use the Chrome browser plug-in called Inbox When Ready that allows users to protect your focus and minimize the amount of time spent on email by hiding your inbox when you’re not using it. That way you are not distracted by new messages or other things when focusing on other tasks. I just recently downloaded Inbox When Ready and you can customize it to your preferences for the frequency with which you want to view incoming messages and the total time allotted to email each day.

  2. You can do it all and you can have it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time. We can’t be effective over the long-term if we operate under the illusion that we can multitask and do everything at the same time and do it well. Science is showing us that the brain can really only do one thing at a time. When we are engaged in what we think is multitasking, what we’re really doing is we’re forcing the brain to switch back and forth really rapidly and creating feelings of anxiety and stress in our physical body. Meico offers a free Mastering the Art of Work/Life Balance in a Digital World starter kit that goes into more detail on the process of priority setting and focusing on tasks more effectively.

I’m curious to hear if others have had any success with managing email or other digital distractions. What has or has not worked for you?



Thanks for the great resources, @miaschmid. I’ve found that using email codes really helps. Our team places these codes in subject headings to help people sort through messages quickly. Without them, it’s not clear from the subject line which emails to prioritize over others…and in the process of sorting them, I end up opening minor emails and getting distracted by them. The codes help you avoid the distraction because you just skip over the less timely ones entirely!

Here are the codes that I’ve found helpful:

  • Urgent: Please respond to this as quickly as you can.

  • RR: “Response requested” - I need a response, but not immediately. (If there is an eventual deadline, I sometimes put “RR [date]”, as in “RR 6/15: feedback on proposal”)

  • RO: “Read Only” - It’s important that you know this is going on because this may affect your work. So please read this. However, I don’t need a response from you.

  • FYI: I just thought this might interest you. But you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. And no response needed.

  • JFF: Just for fun. Ignore if you like, but I bet this will make you smile!


Thank you for sharing, @miaschmid!

The part about digital distractions is similar to an NPR podcast that I listened to recently and loved. It is about the lack of time we get nowadays to do “deep work”, in large part because of the onslaught of emails and minor task distractions. I highly recommend it to everyone. You can find it at this link.

As for me, I am still trying to find a way to limit distractions and stay organized. This is nothing innovative, but I assign a color/star system to my emails using Gmail features to help me prioritize my time. I read the email and determine if it warrants a red, orange or yellow start based on importance and time sensitivity. If it is more “good to know/want to read when I have time” info, it gets an exclamation point icon.


Thanks @miaschmid and all for contributing your own tips for not getting distracted in the digital age. A critical topic especially for teams spread across the globe.

What I’ve found works best for me is to take full advantage of those short pauses between meetings or big projects to keep on top of email and maintain a 0 inbox at all times - well, 97% of the time.

Outside of designated “email time” I try to stay out of there entirely.


NB: I think of emails in three primary categories:

  1. Emails I can answer in 2 minutes or less. These never leave my inbox-- I address them as soon as I see them and either tag them as responded to or awaiting response, then move on. Surprisingly, most email tends to meet the 5 minutes and under threshold.

  2. Emails I’ll need 5+ minutes to respond to, which are time-sensitive that I should address by the end of today or tomorrow. These leave my main inbox and go to a multiple inboxes inbox called “time-sensitive priority”, and are labeled with a yellow star.

  3. Emails I’ll need 5+ minutes to respond to, which are not time sensitive. These leave my main inbox and go to a multiple inboxes inbox called “needs action/reply”, labeled with a yellow exclamation mark. I address these in pre-scheduled, carved out time on my calendar throughout the week.


Here’s the general flow for my day-

  • First 30 minutes of my day every day is spent sorting through my main inbox, responding to or categorizing new emails as either types 1, 2, or 3 from above.

  • During the day between meetings (in 5-10 minute intervals) I address all emails coming to my main inbox, as categorized by types 1, 2, or 3 from above.

  • Last 15-30 minutes of every day I spent wrapping up and ensuring I’m left with 0 inbox and that all emails are properly categorized in their correct multiple inbox.


Here’s a great resource on how to set up multiple inboxes in Gmail to ensure you’re staying up on your email, while minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity!




This is great - thanks, @miaschmid, for continuing this conversation about the happy, healthy nonprofit. Your two points are quite accurate and I couldn’t agree more. @abigailmoy’s reply about email codes is great too - I really appreciate those codes which have become an integral part of how we work and collaborate as a team.

Some more strategies that I employ to some degree of success to keep myself from going crazy:

  1. I keep social media and news sites closed and do not have any social media apps installed on my smartphone. I reward myself with social media and news from time to time when I’ve completed a task or when I feel like I deserve a break.
  2. I add “busy” blocks into my calendar when I want to focus on something, and mute my chat notifications while I am trying to focus on something. I might also simply close my email tab.
  3. Whenever possible, I try to avoid scheduling any meetings back to back. Even 15 minutes can be a huge help to give you time to recharge and stretch between meetings, and also gives you a bit of a buffer in case a meeting goes over.
  4. Alot of the email we get in this day and age is automated notifications from other systems and it can get overwhelming if you’re not careful. I try to turn them all off. For example:
    • In my forum preferences here, I have it set to show browser notifications when I have it open in a web browser and to not send any email notifications at all unless I am not logged in. This means I can keep it open when I want to be responsive and close it when I need to focus on another task, and still know that I won’t miss anything important.
    • On our team we also use a web app (flow) for assigning tasks to each other and discussing/tracking those, and I have also completely turned off email notifications. I keep flow open when I am working in it, but otherwise keep that tab closed and do not have the flow app installed on any of my devices. I do get a daily summary that helps me to make sure I don’t forget tasks assigned to me or that I’ve asked someone else to do.

Wow thank you @tobiaseigen @deylacurtis @mckinleycharles and @abigailmoy for your responses and helpful tips and tricks for staying focused in the digital age. I had my inbox hidden for the past couple hours and was pleasantly surprised when I checked it and read through all of your responses :blush:.

@abigailmoy I too have started using the RR email code thanks to emails I received from other Namatians, but love the other codes you and the Network team use. You have inspired me to integrate these into my email communications as a way of being more mindful of the messages I send out to others. In general, I’ve found that I often receive requests from colleagues that do not specify a priority level or a deadline. It would be great if we started to build a culture around being explicit in email communication (and communication more broadly) about the urgency of our requests (low, medium, high) and a requested response date, as well as asking the recipient if the requested deadline is realistic for them.

I’ve also started using multiple inboxes thanks to @deylacurtis and have found that it does help me organize and prioritize emails throughout the day. However, as @mckinleycharles mentioned I still struggle to find dedicated time for “deep work” that moves beyond the day-to-day tasks and meetings.