A career in the nonprofit sector is often called a labor of love. In part, that’s because working to improve the lives of others can be so fulfilling.
But the “labor of love” label can also be a palatable way to acknowledge an uncomfortable truth: Nonprofit salaries lag behind compensation in other sectors.
Nonprofit Westchester (NPW), an association of the county’s nonprofits, wants to change that. Founded in 2012 with support from WCF, the organization provides professional development and advocacy for its more than 300 member organizations.
“Certainly, nonprofits offer as much value to society as do government and the business sector,” said NPW Executive Director Jan Fisher. “But we do know that people in the nonprofit sector are underpaid.” As nonprofits compete for funding, moderate salaries can help keep budgets in check. But, as salary transparency gains momentum in New York State, NPW says nonprofit leaders need more tools to advocate for better pay.
That’s why WCF is helping fund a regional compensation survey by NPW. Fisher said the results will be crucial for advocacy, and, she hopes, a much-needed catalyst for change.
“The most important thing that we hope to do with this salary survey is to now have a critical resource for our nonprofit organizations to benchmark salaries against like organizations, and other employers in Westchester County specifically,” Fisher said. “We wanted to be able to respond to our membership with this service.”
The data can help in other ways, too, as when the facts point to underlying inequities that need to be remedied. As Fisher pointed out: “This is a workforce that is 80 percent women and 55 percent people of color. So there are surrounding issues that still have to be addressed.”
With the new salary survey results now being analyzed, Westchester’s nonprofit leaders will have a powerful new tool to advocate for fair and updated compensation for the work they and their staff do.