chronicle of philanthropy

Negotiate nonprofit salary

Recently Little House Communications asked me to help them write an article about negotiating your nonprofit salary, for the Chronicle of Philanthropy. This article was published on October 28th. Here’s what I said:

“Do the homework. Mazarine Treyz, a fundraising adviser in Portland, Ore., and the author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising, advises her clients to arm themselves with facts and figures before any negotiating session. “Take a good look at the organization,” says Ms. Treyz. “What’s the size of the budget? How much does the executive director make?”

Such data is widely available. Guidestar.org offers a wealth of financial information about nonprofits, specifically the 990s of charities, so you can see how much the top paid people make. Also, some state umbrella associations may do their own regional surveys of nonprofit salaries.

Put a price tag on your strengths. While candidates should be knowledgeable about how much the position they are seeking typically pays, Ms. Treyz encourages her clients to go a step further.

“Try to calculate what you actually brought to your last job,” she says. “How much money did you raise? How many people did you help? What processes did you put into place? Having that information at your fingertips conveys that you know your stuff and will help you negotiate from a position of strength.”

Employees who are seeking additional compensation should also keep an inventory of their contributions, says Ms. Treyz. “Pointing to something extra you did to help the organization really strengthens your case, especially if it’s something that groups are always in need of, like fundraising or media,” she says.

Here are more tips:

Find a niche to fill. Richard Male, a nonprofit-management and fundraising consultant in Denver, argues that negotiations these days have less to do with what a prospective employee wants than with the perceived value of what he or she brings to the charity.

“What are you specifically going to do to help the organization carry out its mission?” asks Mr. Male. “If you can demonstrate that you bring something the group really needs, that is key.”

He says candidates should delve deeply into the background of the charities they want to work for to understand the groups’ strengths and weaknesses. “Read the annual reports, talk to staff if you can. This isn’t just a numbers game but a question of culture and fit,” says Mr. Male, who started the Community Resource Center, which offered management support to other nonprofits. “In order to demonstrate that you have value to add, you need to understand the larger picture.”

Identify the nonprofit’s future needs. For established nonprofit employees who are seeking to negotiate higher salaries, the Fordham Center’s Mr. Luks suggests that they familiarize themselves with their charity’s strategic plan, if they have access to it. “You will go into your review with an understanding of how your work is helping to achieve the goals laid out in the strategic plan,” says Mr. Luks.

Learn how to better negotiate your nonprofit salary by reading the whole article here: The Chronicle of Philanthropy