So, in other news, I quit my job last week.
Well, kinda. I gave my notice last week, while on vacation, which felt super skeezey, but was just the best I could do. I'm here for this week and next and then I move on. So, some thoughts on this whole thing:
Over the past year or two, I have periodically referred to stress at work or being upset about work or so forth and so on. I have not exactly liked my job very much during that time. It's been every kind of anxiety you can possibly imagine.
It's a good job and for the most part, I have worked with amazing people. From time to time those people, being real life human beings have acted in ways that aren't stellar, but for the most part, they have been great. I like the organization. I like many, many things about my job.
But, this is, to some degree at least, the nonprofit life. We are dependent on gifts. Gifts are dependent on the overall financial health of the nation. That hasn't been great.
We also operate on a pretty thin margin. This varies by organization and many have a nice year or two worth of funds put back for cushion, but in my experience, most don't. Most are a matter months away from not making payroll. Nonprofits are the working class of businesses, Always a couple of paydays away from homeless.
And, our biggest expense is our people. Which means, that when funds are low, you can cut programs, which you don't want to do because programs are why you are there, or you can cut people or benefits.
In the past eighteen months, our staff has reduced by 66%. Our benefits have decreased. Our workload has increased. And our stress level has gone insane.
This is not the fault of my boss or my board or the organization. This is the nature of the nonprofit beast. This is the world I make a profession in. And it sucks.
I haven't written about any of this because, you know, job. And I'm being as vague as I can be, because you know, bridges. But what I can tell you is that the last couple of years have wreaked havoc on my health, both emotional and physical. I get way more headaches than I used to, my depression has reached exciting new heights and panic attacks. Panic attacks suck.
And, still. I have mixed feelings about leaving.
I'm excited about my new opportunity. But I am sad to leave. I've been here 7 years. This job is older than one of my kids. I've been through 3 cars in this job. (Which sounds bad actually, but it was kind of the tail end of one and then the van from hell... eh, I'm not explaining myself.) This, in many ways is home. I know this place like I know my house and I will miss it. I will miss my people and my office and my job.
But, with any luck, I won't miss the sleepless nights or the constant upset stomach or the nagging headaches. Hopefully, this is going to equal a healthier, happier me.
Nonprofit is a passion. People don't do it for the money or the benefits or the job security, because those things are not all that great in nonprofit. We do it, because at the end of the day we want to feel like someone, somewhere is living a better life because of something we did. We do it because we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
But it is a hard life. Not like logger hard or ice road trucker hard or crab fisherman hard. But hard. Chances are you know someone who works in nonprofit. We are a pretty big chunk of the economy. Give 'em a hug.