Championing Well-being: When to Push and When to Rest

Friday, May 5, 2023

What does it mean to thrive? 

At the Bainum Family Foundation, we recognize that everyone defines thriving differently. For more than five decades, our organization has invested in the well-being of children and families, evolving our strategy over the years to reflect new thinking, learning and changing community needs. We are actively becoming an antiracist organization that is committed to diversity, equity, and incluson as part of our broader healthy organizational culture. Our vision is for all children and families to thrive; and that includes our team. We are therefore deeply invested in supporting the well-being of foundation employees.  

The weight and complexity of social impact work can be depleting for employees. And since the pandemic, we realized the need to approach workplace wellness differently. This is still a work in progress. We are utilizing industry best practices, insights from peer organizations, and team input to determine effective offerings for employees. We currently offer a variety of benefits and services to help our team to replenish and recharge, including: 

  • Strong medical plans, which include preventive care and robust employer contributions   
  • Flexible wellness/fitness benefit that covers a range of services, resources and equipment 

  • An equipment stipend, to mitigate ergonomic risk factors while working from home 

  • Online therapy services, for immediate and short-term mental health intervention (separate from those offered through our medical plans) 

  • Flexible scheduling, including naming core hours for collaborative work and empowering folks to manage their work priorities and schedules    

  • “No internal meeting zones,” weekly blocks voted on by employees to improve opportunity for focused work time  

  • Enhanced leave policies with flexible paid time-off that meets diverse family needs 

We recognize that an organization cannot be responsible for every aspect of an employee’s well-being, and we are exploring the role the organization can play to support self-care. We are focused on building and maintaining a culture of trust and mutual accountability, which, among other benefits, empowers employees to push when necessary and rest when appropriate. Finding effective integration between work and other facets of life can be challenging for everyone. So, leaders and staff are working to collaboratively prioritize and pace their work projects and lean into a cultural expectation to create conditions for a psychologically safe workplace. 

We must also note: Working in philanthropy comes with tremendous privilege. We have resources and tools that other nonprofit organizations don’t have, and we are removed from many of the pain points experienced by our partners and the communities that we serve. As one grantee recently stated, “funders have the luxury of taking their time. But at the community level, things are happening today. Children and families can’t wait.” 

We acknowledge this reality. And we therefore continue to engage intentionally and optimistically to both center community needs and prioritize the well-being of our team. As leaders, we have the unique ability to see the opportunities and make them a reality. So that all of us — partners, communities and our team — can thrive. 


Henrena Brunson 
Bainum Family Foundation
Director, DEI, Culture and Talent Development  


Rebecca Cisek, EdD
Bainum Family Foundation
VP, Organizational Learning and Effectiveness