Nonprofit Trauma is the specific experience of severe mental and emotional stress arising from systemic interrelational and/or structural abuse that takes place within the context of a workplace grounded in social service or social change values.
Much of how our social movements advance is contingent on the existence of nonprofit organizations, which at their best serve to redirect excess capital and earned income to alleviate the harm caused by generational poverty, structural oppression, and modern capitalism. These organizations are founded on social change or social service values, and attract many among us who seek to devote our careers in the service of paradigm shifting and social change.
And yet we so often experience interrelational and organizational trauma in the context of these spaces, the very spaces we choose to work in because we believe a different world is possible.
One of the things that is unique about Nonprofit Trauma is that in addition to the negative/painful experience of the abuse, the individual or group experiencing that abuse has an underlying experience of betrayal, because of the organization's externally broadcasted values.
After experiencing work-related trauma, employees are often told that we cannot tell our stories for fear of becoming “unhirable”, or for fear of damaging the reputation of the organization. Those left within the organizational system are often unable to process or correct that which caused the trauma or trauma state, from fear of damaging the reputation of the organization.
How do we find healing when our individual and organizational traumas are ignored or erased?
Over the last year I have been developing a set of practices that assist Nonprofits in addressing structural oppression and harm through circle process/mediation, collective storytelling, and culture change. If your Nonprofit has experienced an organizational crisis within the last two years, particularly related to structural racism and oppression, and you believe that you could benefit from a facilitated process, please contact me using the Contact form linked to on the left side of the page.