Have you ever felt upset that you have to go to all of these charity events, all of these chamber of commerce meetings and corporate meetings where you are frayed at the cuffs and frazzled, and all around you, people are sleek and well dressed? Have people ever looked you up and down and you have felt judged and upset about that? Have you ever arrived at one of these functions, and immediately wanted to run away because you felt like no one here would understand your struggle?

Common Misconception: Constraints on compensation: Charity and self-deprivation are not the same thing. This misconception says that people who work in the nonprofit world should be more interested in the good they can do than the money they can make. Those who want material abundance do not have the concerns of the needy at the forefront of their minds.

If you are a fundraiser that makes hundreds of thousands or even millions a year for your nonprofit, you are not allowed to reap any benefit from that. In what universe does this make sense?

When you work at a nonprofit, the message is clear,

“A Diamond is forever” -DeBeers
“Because you’re worth it” -L’Oreal
“Never follow” -Audi
“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit” -Cadillac

But if you want to work for a charity, society flips these messages around. “A Diamond is for everyone else.” Because you’re NOT worth it” “Always follow,” and

“No life, no liberty, just the pursuit of wealthy donors.” -Dan Pallotta, Uncharitable

“All of this creates a perfect storm of deprivation. First, the constraints on charity send much of the world’s greatest talent into the “for-profit” sector. Second, the people who do come into the nonprofit sector are unlikely to stay long enough to create critical institutional consistency and knowledge. Third, they endure so much personal financial stress that it is hard to imagine how they could have very much imaginative reserve left to envision solutions to the world’s greatest problems, let alone execute them. Fourth, because they themselves are not affluent, they travel outside circles of affluence, where mutually beneficial cross-promotional business initiatives are so often cooked up. In the end, all of these things come together to create a dynamic failure of possibility. The for-profit sector continues to thrive and the nonprofit sector continues to struggle. And it all occurs in the name of charity.” -Dan Pallotta, Uncharitable

You’re killing yourself to work, making less than $50,000 a year, and for what? So that your nonprofit can add more programs that you were never consulted about, and then you’re told to raise more the next year, since you did so well this year, but you get no increase in salary, or respect, or title, in your organization?

How can you stop this madness?

If we allow charity to compensate people according to the value they produce, we can attract more leaders of the kind the for-profit sector attracts, and we can produce greater value.

I am not saying pay the president millions, and the rest of us $12 an hour. I am saying, let us be compensated fairly. Let the executive director make no more than 10x what the lowest paid person makes. If the ED wants to make more, then EVERYONE makes more. Everyone who works at nonprofits should be paid above $40,000 per year.

Do not work for people who are trying to nickel and dime you to death. There are plenty of fundraising jobs out there.

If you can’t find a job that pays you what you deserve,

Go into business for yourself.

You deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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