Have you heard about the 15 protests in Seattle?

What are they all about?

In a nutshell, people are asking corporations to raise the minimum wage to $15. Which is still below where it was in the 1970s, but we have to start somewhere.


According to the graph above (via Truthdig), minimum wage should be $22 an hour. In many places in the US, minimum wage is $8.11. In Texas for servers at restaurants it’s $2.13 an hour.

The New York Times and the Washington Post reported this last February that in 2015 the Gap (a clothing retailer) will start paying all of its employees in the US $10 an hour minimum, and it seems like the tide is turning in Seattle first to get even closer to what the true minimum wage should be.

Wage theft is a crime. Make them pay.

What does this have to do with our nonprofits, and with our fundraising professionals? I mean, this isn’t about fundraising Mazarine, come ON! Stop being SO POLITICAL!

As Le Tigre says, “It feels so 80s, or early 90s, to be political, where are my friends? Get off the internet! I’ll meet you in the street! Get off the internet! Destroy the right wing!”

Well, let me show you something that Nathan Hand tweeted at the AFP conference this last March. income-inequality-in-a-tweet

Have you ever heard the phrase charitable industrial complex?

I’ve written about it before. Peter Buffet, famous son of famous rich person Warren Buffet, wrote a piece with this title last year in the New York Times. He criticized charity for being a $316 billion industry, employing 9.4 million people, but the actual number is much larger (approximately 1 in 10 people in America work for a nonprofit (mostly for hospitals and schools)). And we are one of the few industries that is growing. Many industries are shrinking in the US right now, but charities are expanding.

The government has stepped away from providing services so much that nonprofits are now springing up to stop people from falling through the cracks. So nonprofits are there trying to catch people when they fall. And all of this creates more jobs. That’s good, right?

But there’s a fly in the ointment of this nonprofit explosion of jobs.

Have you ever heard the phrase 501 community plantation?

What does this phrase mean?

In a nutshell, it means YOU GET PAID TOO LITTLE. Even if we rise to leadership positions, we make less than every other sector.

Whether you are a young fundraiser or an older fundraiser. You get paid too little. There is always an excuse to pay you too little.

Okay, I know this is a message from captain obvious.

It’s been years since I worked at a nonprofit for $10 an hour. I lasted 3 months at that job and hated every second of it. Every moment I was there felt like they were stealing my time from me, because they weren’t paying me enough.  I finally got fired for being 2 minutes late to work and I was so elated on that day that I walked out on air.

I know a lot of fundraising professionals who make much less than $22 an hour. Most of us make around $15. If we’re lucky, we can make $25 or $35 an hour by working at a larger nonprofit, or by lasting long enough to get the experience to make this kind of money. However, even if we have experience, we are pushed out of the way by people who have been executive directors, and who are now gunning for our fundraising jobs. I’ve seen it happen. So you try to rise in the field, and you’re outclassed in the interview because a former ED is now looking to be Development Director or Development manager.

And it gets worse. The older and more experienced you get, the more employers say, “well, we want someone younger” or “we want someone who can connect with a younger audience” but underneath its “you’ve got so much experience you’re not going to accept the measly salary we are going to try to offer you.” So the older fundraisers don’t apply to the $15 an hour jobs, and they end up getting filled by someone with no experience, or someone desperate for a job so they leave out their master’s degree on their resume, just to get a job. Then once they’re in the job, they hang on for dear life, because they really NEED a job, any job!

A friend of mine told me recently, “I had coffee with an ED who told me point blank she couldn’t afford to hire anyone who wasn’t young because it makes the shared group premiums shoot up”

And you tell people we need to raise the minimum wage and they say, “But then the price of everything would go up!”

Actually, as a matter of fact, the price of everything already went up. Minimum wage has stagnated, and housing prices, gas prices, rent prices, tuition prices, food prices, all of these have inflated.

Call me a radical but just to keep pace with inflation, you need to be making $22 per hour, minimum. 

How are you ever going to have a better life if you keep making $15 to $20 an hour?

If you’re living in an apartment and you haven’t saved money for retirement or paid off your student loans yet, there’s a reason for that.

NO, it’s not because you need better financial education.

NO, it’s not because you can’t budget properly. That has nothing to do with it. The price of everything went up and your wage went down. This is why you can’t save. Self help is no help for inequality. Fuck the bootstraps man. You need to get PAID!

I’m not saying it’s all bleak. I’m saying this. 15 is our fight. 15 at minimum. 25 is a better place to be. But start with what you think you can get away with. Then keep moving forward.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well our nonprofit could never afford to pay us all $22 an hour!”

Well, they could, if they had you all part time. You would make a higher hourly wage and you wouldn’t have to be at work all the time.

Then you could go home and you could take a class, build your skills, do something else to make more money. And once they got more money in, they would eventually extend your hours to be longer.

We need to learn to negotiate our salaries.

We need to learn to take our power back.binderstandingright(46)

If you want to learn how to empower yourself more at work, check out my new e-course, Get Your Dream Job