Saturday, January 12

Would you work for free?

A lot of professional nonprofit fundraisers I know are aware of the fact their skills could earn them significantly higher paychecks if they were to leave the nonprofit world.

Many stay because they feel passionately about the mission and want to work for a higher purpose than the corporate rat race offers. They work just as long and just as hard. However, as a result of the lower pay, fundraisers (and their families) make financials sacrifices to support the cause they believe in.

But would you work for free?

I'm not talking about the rich Board members who volunteer their time to the local hospital. I'm asking if your Executive Director came to you and asked if you would forego a paycheck for a month to avoid the organization cutting critical services... what would you say?

Apparently Rudy Guiliani's campaign manager Mike DuHaime and between 15 and 20 other senior staffers will not collect a paycheck this month in order to help their boss concentrate financial resources in Florida.

Spokespeople insist this is a voluntary act and does not reflect a sinking campaign that is living hand to mouth... and if the former New York City mayor can pull out a primary victory in Florida their is a chance that the gamble could work out as donors reward the Guiliani campaign.

I'm not sure how often that would work outside of the political world...


Anonymous said...

I have - there was a social service organization that I worked for (my first full-time development job) where everyone had to take two weeks without pay. This was couched in "if everyone takes two weeks without pay then we won't have to lay people off" (though layoffs followed).

I did it because I believed in the mission and (probably more importantly) in the competence of my boss. It was unfortunate that there were significant actions taken by senior staff that undermined my faith in the organization (i.e. the admin making $22K took a pay cut, and the CFO's car payments were still made by the company).

I wouldn't do it again, but I have also learned a lot more about evaluating the financial health of an organization, and to be honest, probably wouldn't choose to work at a company who flirted that heavily with the bottom line.

"a fundraiser" said...

Well put. An organization that flirts with the bottom line rarely only does it once.

Thanks for sharing your story.