Monday, June 16, 2008

Self-Delusional Nonprofit Executives Talking about Low Salaries in the Sector

I often run across things and want to get to the truth of the matter. Luckily in the charity sector we value transparency.

A nonprofit executive recently was bemoaning the fact that they were underpaid, asking the question what about the mission made them choose this sector.

Knowing a little about the organization, I found it weird they would consider themselves underpaid. So, with the magic of the IRS form 990 and, I compared their salaries to "commercial" rates.

The executive is paid 20% MORE than the commercial median salary. The CEO of the same organization is paid 35% MORE. (adjusted for sector and company size)

The wage rates in the sector are a serious issue. I am not making light of that. But many of the leaders in the sector working for leading charities are being paid on par, if not better than, commercial wage rates. Lets be very careful about what we say.

When I worked in in a community based nonprofit, I was certainly underpaid compared to commercial opportunities. Though I remain in the sector, I can't say I that any longer -- I have purposely sought positions with compensation on par with what the commercial sector pays.

I can still shed light on the problems of compensation in the sector, but it would be dishonest of me to suggest I am somehow personally sacrificing to stay in a mission based job that I love.

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