Nonprofits and Employee Attrition – The Truth Hurts

October 14, 2009

This unedited ad recently appeared, seeking a “Development Associate” for a local nonprofit organization.

1) Development Office assistance
• manage donor/gift records including processing gifts and reconciling with business office, receipting gifts and producing acknowledgments to donors
• organize mail appeals several times a year including supervising volunteer crews if needed
• provide database information for telephone solicitation as needed
• prepare and distribute a variety of development reports as needed
• maintain accurate and complete donor and prospect files
• support grant seeking efforts as assigned
• assist with planning of donor visitation and development events as needed; assist with follow-up data and reports as assigned
• type, proofread and mail correspondence as assigned
• compose drafts of letters and other written material as requested
• collect and respond as needed to mail and telephone inquiries for development staff when they are out of the office
• maintain records of Board Development Committee, including distributing agendas, minutes and reports
• assist Director of Development and Outreach and Development Manager with other office tasks as assigned
• maintain general and up to date knowledge of all organization programs and activities

2) Database Management
• maintain integrity of database and implement regular system updates
• train and monitor work of database users; oversee data entry by others
• maintain database procedures instructions and user manuals
• respond to requests for database information from promotional team (mailing lists, mailing labels, analytical reports, etc.) as scheduled for the year
• do data entry as needed, including entering new constituencies and prospects from campus visitors, development trips and address changes from returned mail

3) Central organizational support
• serve as part of back up team for the receptionist, answering general calls to the organization
• maintain company phone directory

• Excellent organizational, interpersonal, and writing skills.
• Proficiency with computer programs, particularly Microsoft Word and Excel, and Raiser’s Edge or ability to learn it.
• Attention to detail and accuracy of extreme importance.
• Excellent person-to-person and telephone skills.
• Ability to handle diverse tasks and accurately and efficiently handle numerous details.
• Ability to maintain confidentiality and professional manner.
• Ingenuity and enthusiasm.

The pay rate? The princely sum of $12 an hour – no benefits.

Let’s see, this organization is looking for someone with the level of skill practically on par with what a development director is to some organizations, and the pay rate is less than what I made in 1975, working as a secretary. Heck, $12 an hour is 50 cents less than my college student daughter makes working retail!  This is basically slave labor.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – until nonprofit organizations wake up and realize that they must make as strong a commitment to funding their mission as they make to their mission, we’re going to see a lot of organizations closing their doors in the next few years.

Of course, we don’t get into this line of work because of the pay scale, but c’mon already!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Middleton October 15, 2009 at 6:23 am

If this job listing was the exception, it would be funny. However, I’ve seen tons of ads just like this, and I wonder why the bar is so high and the pay so low. Maybe if the organization truly can’t afford to pay reasonable salaries for the skills they need, they should think about closing their doors. Just a thought.


Dana Wilson January 22, 2010 at 4:40 pm

The sad thing is that there are still nonprofits asking us to work for free (even worse then this one for $12/hr), and then only if we get a grant get some money.
To me that’s like asking an accountant to do your taxes, and he only gets paid if you get a refund. An accountant should be paid regardless of the outcome, and so should grant writers.

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