Charities Plan to Raise Salaries, Hire Staff in 2010: Survey

A majority of non-profit organizations in three parts of the country – New York City, New Jersey and Washington D.C. – expect to hire staff in the year ahead. Most will also raise salaries, or at least keep them steady, according to a trio of surveys by Professionals for Nonprofits, a staffing firm.

According to the surveys of over 1,200 organizations, less than 5 percent expect to cut salaries in 2010, and more than 55 percent expect to raise them. That number rises to 65 percent in D.C.

Optimism about 2010 varies significantly by location however. An astonishing 93 percent of NYC respondents “think the worst is over,” but only 39 percent in New Jersey, and 32 percent in D.C.

Money makers make money

The most sought after employees? Fund raisers. In fact salaries for fund raisers actually rose in 2009, according to the survey. Gayle Brandel, president of Professional for Nonprofits, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy that clients still have a hard time filling those roles, “so they’re willing to pay a little more.”

Still, more than half of all surveyed organizations expecting to hire for non-fund raising positions as well. Data not that surprising?

Ms. Brandel expressed surprise at the relative stickiness of both salaries and staff numbers in 2009. In New York and Washington, for example, only 39 and 27 percent of surveyed orgs actually cut positions. In D.C., 73 percent said they had actually hired in 2009.

But the relatively rosy data may not be so surprising, for a number of reasons:

1. Government cash

Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were specifically designed to encourage investment in non-profits. Plus, much of the stimulus money went to state and local budgets to maintain social services, which are often administered by non-profits.

This dovetails with the data that Washington-based charities were least likely to fire staffers: the closer to the stimulus money you get, the more comes your way.

2. Money worries? Hire a Fund Raiser.

In a down economy, anxiety over charitable contributions rises, spurring leadership to secure proven rainmakers, which could explain the rise in fund raisers’ salaries in ’09.

3. We’re not in this for the money.

Finally, and this is really based more on personal experience and intuition, but when people sign up to work for less firing them in a downturn is probably a tougher sell, and not as necessary – because you’re paying them less.

Furthermore, non-profits are less prone to cycles of over-hiring and excess followed by lay-offs that private companies competing in the free market engage in (although it does happen: take for example, Harvard University’s endowment crisis).

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

Leave a Reply