Maybe I should have called this article ‘Why pay your fundraising staff more’  or ‘You aren’t paying your fundraising staff enough’ but Joe Garecht of the Fundraising Authority already took that title! Thanks Joe, for inspiring me today.

Check out these charts in Business Insider’s “You Should Be Mad As Hell About This

Look at this chart. Look at it.

Look how our wages haven’t risen

You are not getting paid enough.

Look how our wages have remained stagnant for 50 years.


Warning, there’s a link at the bottom of the charts that says “Here’s what we should do to fix it” and frankly, I don’t agree with him, we DO need to raise taxes on the rich, and he’s just not into that.

Anyway, I digress.

Recently, a friend of mine, who formerly had the title of Assistant Director of Development, was hired as a Development Manager. She’s got tons of experience and has raised TONS of money. Ah, and her salary? $45,000 a year. And she didn’t negotiate. And she was the youngest person who applied for the job, and the least experienced. I think they probably hired her because they thought they could get away with paying her less. She’s an incredible fundraiser, and deserves more.

But is her experience unique?

I did a quick job search of craigslist for how much people are paying fundraising people and LO. It’s just like the charts say. Wages haven’t risen in 50 years.

development co-manager job description

Development co-manager, $33K a year

how much do a fundraising professional make

$20 an hour to be a hero for a nonprofit. This is $45K a year. This is not enough.


OMSI fundraising staff salary

$58K to be a development director of a large, successful museum, with full responsibility for major gifts, galas, etc? NO WAY!

So, how did things get so bad?

Well, have you ever been encouraged NOT to share how much you make? Why is that?

Maybe we should all just be open about how much we make, so that we can all make more. we’ll be in a stronger bargaining position with HR, with the board, with others, if we demand more.

If you want to start to be open about how much you make, we’ve made a place for you to do that. It’s called OccupyPayroll. You can anonymously put in where you work and how much you make.

Go and check it out!

So what are 10 reasons to pay fundraising staff more?

  1. EFFECTIVENESS. Because people who have to worry about buying gas and food and live on credit are going to be too stressed out with poverty to do a good job for your nonprofit.
  2. DONORS DON’T WANT TO SEE POOR PEOPLE ASKING FOR MONEY. THEY WANT PEERS TO ASK. Because if you want fundraisers to connect with big time donors, putting them in rags is a surefire way to get them to fail. Big donors want to connect with peers, not with ragamuffins.
  3. PERSUASION. Because your fundraiser can bring tangible pieces of your mission to your donors and board in compelling ways. If they can make people cry with the stories they tell, every tear is worth $1,000. Give them the money they deserve as they raise you all of the money you want.
  4. WE ALL DESERVE MORE. Because wages haven’t risen in 50 years. (SEE CHART ABOVE)
  5. WE KNOW HOW MUCH CEOs/Presidents/Executive Directors MAKE. Come on. We write the grants. We know who makes the money. And we don’t think it’s fair you make $120,000 a year and we can barely get by. ALSO SEE Because executive salaries have outpaced everyone else’s salaries (DITTO).
  6. SKILLS. Because fundraising staff work really hard to get people to care about your mission, and it took them a long time to build the skills they have.
  7. MORE RESPONSIBILITIES THAN VPS. Because they are the VPs of business development for your organization. They are the ones who scheme and plan and execute and hope to raise more and more money each year for you to change the world.
  8. INITIATIVE. Because often fundraisers do all of this work with little to no supervision, no plan, no budget, and pull off the event, mailing, grant with flying colors!
  9. TURNOVER. Because if you care about the future of your nonprofit at all, you will treat them well. Most fundraisers are not treated well, and so job-hop every 12-18 months. If you have been firing fundraisers or just “can’t seem to keep them” then it’s not them, it’s you. Each time they leave the next person takes 12-18 months to get up to speed. and then they leave. And that’s why you’re not raising the money you need. Now you know.
  10. NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS. There is a leadership crisis going on in the nonprofit sector. Older founders and EDs are leaving, and young people are not taking their places. Young people are leaving the nonprofit field in droves. They are going back to school. They are trying to get a better life with a job that will pay them what they deserve. Do you really think that if they could make a living wage in the sector, feel valued, appreciated, that they would leave? Um, no.

Any more reasons why Fundraising staff should be paid more?

Please leave a comment.