It’s an open secret in the nonprofit sector that it’s a pink collar ghetto.

We have the lowest wages of the entire USA.


underpaid chart for nonprofit workers

Chart courtesy of reader survey on blue avocado 2010


It’s bad in Canada too. See below.

salary biggest hurdle to retaining EDs

Lower than the public sector. Lower than the private sector. Lower than anyone.


75% of our sector is female.

Guess how much money women make compared to men in the US in 2018?

White women make 90 cents on the dollar. That’s just for paid labor. Not for unpaid labor, at home, taking care of family, or children. Not for doing emotional labor in their relationships. Not for all of the other labor they are expected to do, for free.

It gets worse though, when you break that down by race.


Clearly, working hard to get ahead is not the answer. Being born a white man is a much more likely indicator of getting a higher salary.

So here we are. In the middle of a society that says it has low unemployment. That says it is a meritocracy.


WHY do we accept such low wages? Why do people persist in thinking that we in fact, deserve low wages?

Dan Pallotta has written about this at length. I summed up one of his books with the post “No life, no liberty, just the pursuit of wealthy donors” He’s also featured on RE:Philanthropy.

And what can we do about this pernicious and awful thoughtform that destroys our health, our lives, and our ability to save for retirement, a house, to pay off student debt, or ANYTHING?

The Decent Work Movement in Ontario, Canada by the Ontario Nonprofit Network is working on this problem. They are doing research. They are working on advocacy and legislation. And pension plans. Here’s my interview with Pamela Uppal, with more.

 But what can we do HERE, NOW in the US?Equal Pay Mazarine Treyz

If you want a raise right now, let’s talk about how to get you one.

  1. Share how much you make with your colleagues. Ask them how much they make. Here’s why. Stop this strange idea that it’s “vulgar” to talk about money. The only person who benefits from everyone being ignorant of each others’ salaries is your employer.
  2. Is it in line with the average? Look at Salary.com (in the US) or the Charity Village Salary survey (in Canada) to see if what you are making is in line with the average in your job title and geographic area.  Even if it is in line with the average, it is still going to be too low, for the reasons mentioned above. SO.
  3. Consider having a simple conversation with your boss that goes “What are the metrics I would need to hit in the next 6 months to justify you giving me a raise?”

Maybe after all this, you don’t think you need a higher salary. OK.

Are you a wage slave at your nonprofit? Take this quiz!



Here are some more articles about why you deserve a raise today

Equal Pay Mazarine Treyz

How to actually ask for a raise in your nonprofit job

She knows how to get a $12K raise, read this interview with former fundraiser Elaine Cartas

Getting a raise at your fundraising job-interview with former fundraiser Meghan Godorov

What Me, Ask for a Raise? Interview with former fundraiser Marc Pitman

Case Study: How to ask for a raise during the interview process

How to get a bigger salary- read what I said in the Chronicle of Philanthropy

4 lies you don’t have to buy about salary negotiation

Check this out: How to ask for a raise on the NYT



Maybe you want to start a union to help everyone get paid more.

Unionbusting at Planned Parenthood

How to develop more collective power at work


Are you too uncomfortable asking for more? Maybe you need to make some money on the side.

How to make money on the side if your nonprofit job doesn’t pay you enough

Making money on the side part TWO

Maybe you are a boss who simply thinks they cannot pay staff any more.

What happens when you don’t pay a living wage

10 reasons to pay fundraising staff more

Efficiency Wages and the Nonprofit Sector



Are you coming to AFP Congress in November 2018?

1. I will be there

2. I will be talking about how to get a higher salary.


You may also like this article, 2017 Charity Village Salary Survey highlights!