Nonprofit Burnout: Why Fundraisers of Color Are Leaving with Marisa DeSalles

The Small Nonprofit

09-04-2024 • 36 mins

This one gets me to my core. I sat down with Marisa DeSalles, a Black fundraiser creating and moderating spaces for other Black fundraisers and leaders, to dive deep into trends she sees through her work.

Marisa leads a cohort of Black fundraisers. She is uniquely positioned to provide key insights on the state of the sector, its treatment of racialized leaders, and the exodus of fundraisers. Racialized leaders do not have the same access to wealth, connections, or power as white leaders. However, like all EDs, they feel the entire mission's weight resting solely on their shoulders. We'll unpack how this impacts the sector, and most importantly, what we can do about it.

Key Episode Highlights:

  • The "Black Excellence" trap: The constant pressure to outperform white counterparts as a means of survival isn't sustainable. It's harmful. We need to embrace "mastery" over unattainable perfection.
  • Harms of donor influence: Institutions are caving to donors driven by whitelash, eroding trust and harming their service users. Fundraisers of colour are often caught in the crossfire.
  • Self-care isn't optional: Unpacking trauma is vital – if we don't tend to ourselves, we can't adequately serve our communities. Self-care is a form of activism.
  • Community is power: It's hard fighting alone. Building a network of peers and allies is crucial, especially finding powerful champions within your organization who will advocate for you.
  • Setting sustainable goals: When fundraising is tough, the answer ISN'T just to push harder.  We need realistic targets and expectations so fundraisers aren't set up to fail.

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