4 ways to make more money in the nonprofit sector

You may work at a not-for-profit, but you don’t do it for free. Learn how to increase your earnings.

The nonprofit sector gives professionals the opportunity to grow professionally while pursuing a desire to make a meaningful social impact. Though many go into the sector to give back, it is only natural for motivated employees to want to increase their earning potential as they mature in their careers.

The nonprofit sector is changing, and many organizations are beginning to think more like businesses. This is a good thing for the career-driven professionals who work at nonprofit organizations. Talented individuals and high-performers have more opportunities to earn great salaries in the sector than ever before. However, you must be strategic if you want to truly maximize your earning potential in the nonprofit world. You must prove your worth, know how to ask for what you deserve, and be willing to continually improve your skills and contributions to your organization.

If you’re interested in making more money in the nonprofit sector in the New Year, here are four strategies you should try:

1. Understand your market value

When you think about your current earnings and how much money you think you should be making, consider first whether your salary is in line with market and industry averages. This may take a little research. Use tools like Ladders’ Job Market Guide to look into how much money people in roles similar to your own make, both in the nonprofit sector, and outside of it. Also consider their locations. Professionals in cities like New York and San Francisco will inevitably make more than those in small towns due to the cost of living in those cities. It’s also important to consider the intangible assets you contribute to the team. When you’re evaluating what you bring to the table, think of all the times you have gone above and beyond your duties of your role and consider the value of those contributions when preparing to talk to your supervisor.

2. Talk openly with your supervisor about your career path

Open communication will help you chart a career path that makes sense for both you and your organization. If you’re not yet comfortable asking your supervisors for more money (or you don’t feel like you’ve yet made a contribution deserving of a raise), focus on what you can do to position yourself for future growth. Talk to your supervisor about what you’re doing now, which new skills you want to build to benefit your organization, and the overall contributions you want to make. Express the importance of your growth as an invaluable tool in advancing the organization, and ask your boss to help you chart the next period of your career. Be sure to be explicit about your career goals, and if possible, push for information on how your performance will be evaluated against those goals.

3. Ask

It never hurts to ask. If you feel strongly that you deserve more money, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss it further. Be prepared to back your ask with a solid argument about your contribution. Two things to prepare before your meeting:

  • Examples. You’ll need to be able to show the specific contributions you have brought to the team that have helped your organization meet its goals. For example, if you’ve played a vital role in increasing donations to your organization’s cause, remind your supervisor of that contribution and the impact it has made on the mission.
  • Target Income. Have a target income in mind before the meeting. This way, when your supervisor asks what you would like to make, you can give the exact amount that you’re worth. Do your research, but don’t be afraid to put it on the table!

4. Switch jobs

You may reach a point in your career where your current position no longer has opportunities for upward mobility. If your career simply isn’t going anywhere at your current organization, it may be time to look for other opportunities in the sector. Moving to a new position at a new organization may allow you to escape a stagnating career path and quickly progress to a higher-level position with a more generous salary.

As we approach the New Year, it is important to evaluate your worth at your organization. Are you growing professionally, and making what you’re worth as a result? Or are you stuck in one place? As a motivated professional, you should always be striving to take your career to the next level. Make it a priority to reevaluate your path at your organization and advocate for your continued professional growth in 2015.