You Definitely Won’t Get What You Are Worth Unless You Ask

In my role as a nonprofit compensation consultant and contract negotiator, I am usually retained by CEO’s or boards to negotiate multi-year year, complex employment contract.  Sometimes, I get a request for advice that, if I have time, I respond to. As you can see from the note I received this morning, it can be very gratifying:

Dear James,

Thank you so much for your wonderful advice and words of wisdom regarding my job. I am happy to report that I asked for a promotion and higher salary that is more in line with my responsibilities and work experience. My boss is considering it and we are in the negotiation stages.

I truly could not have done it without your knowledge and encouragement. I am very grateful you took the time to speak with me as I know not everyone would do that in this busy day and age.

If I can ever welcome you to [my city]  to say hello and thank you in person, please let me know.  <

All my best,

Marie is an arts professional at a midsized museum who switched from a curatorial role to development to further her career. She is in major gifts, earning around $50,000 and felt underpaid.  She feels she is successful and has a great deal of contact with major donors. Here is the advice I gave her:

  • Get as many facts as possible.  What do others in the department earn, or, at least, look at the 990s and find out what the head of development is earning.
  • Talk to the professionals in town – your local chapter of the AFP or other nonprofit groups, find out the going rate for your job.
  • Remember, as a rule, men earn more than women simply because they are bold enough to ask for and demand more salary.
  • Tell your boss why you are worth it, how you can make more money for the organization (help him do his job).
  • Figure out if there is more that you can take on, create a new role or an expanded role and propose it.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want/need/think you are worth, even if that is 25% or more than you are currently earning.
  • Arrange a meeting, set the agenda, be direct and business-like, and ask!
  • The next person who speaks generally loses, so once you ask, sit quietly and wait for the reaction; and …
  • Let me know how it goes.

There is a huge pay gap between men and women in the nonprofit sector (larger than the for profit) and particularly for those in lower level and middle management positions, who are in it for the love of the job, the gap is even greater.  You likely are not always paid what you’re worth and deserve – and, have a better chance if you know it and ask for more!

James Abruzzo, Consultant, Consulting, Executive Search, Nonprofit Compensation, Expert Witness, Get What You Are Worth

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