I was recently getting to know someone when the conversation lead to what I do as a job. He seemed very interested my work as a fundraiser and was asking lots of questions about our mission; all was well… Until he said ‘I don’t understand though, shouldn’t people in charities work for free?’
Damn – another one bites the dust!
Why is it that this assumption is still being made? Why do charities still have to justify paying for talent and skills to bring their missions to fruition? Yes, there are a small number of very large charities that pay six-figure salaries to their chief executives, however the trend is that salaries of that scale are only given when the charities have an annual revenue of more than £25m! Not exactly standard in the sector when you consider that approximately 25% of charities have a turnover of less than £100,000 per year!
If you are talented, driven and benefitting your cause with the work that you do, why shouldn’t you be paid a fair and appropriate salary for your contribution? And if a charity is offering a low salary for a job that requires expertise and extensive knowledge, they run the risk of hiring under qualified, inexperienced staff, which will ultimately harm the organisation and prevent it from achieving its’ goal. The salaries need to match the role.
If your organisation is transparent in their spending and income and salaries are clearly demonstrated for donors to see and scrutinise, then it is in the donors’ hands to decide if the charity is spending money appropriately in an effort to fulfil their mission. Being a fundraiser does not mean working for no salary, but it does mean working as hard as possible to ensure your organisation is getting the best value for their investment in your skills, knowledge and experience.
Building trust with supporters is essential in ensuring their continued interest and contribution. If a charity is up front with their information, and is spending in a responsible way to ensure their mission is carried why shouldn’t they pay their hard-working staff?
Have you ever been questioned about paying staff at your organisation? Do you agree that pay should match the skills required for any job, even if it is in the non-profit sector? How would you answer someone questioning charity pay? I’d love to hear from you and get your experiences!