Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nonprofit Salary Negotiation

So you've finally made it to the home-stretch of your job search; the nonprofit you really wanted to work for is prepared to offer you a job.  The only detail that remains, however, is one of the most important: your salary.  The nonprofit salary negotiation can be one of the more nerve-wracking tasks you undertake.  You obviously want to be paid appropriately for the work you will be doing, but you also are nervous about sounding too greedy.  How are you supposed to know what is an appropriate nonprofit salary to ask for?  Luckily for you, there are plenty of resources you can use to help you.

One good resource you will discover are salary surveys.  These are available from various different organizations (including The NonProfit Times), and will tell you the exact salaries for various types of nonprofit jobs.  Some of these reports cost money, however, so if this isn't an option for you there are other alternatives.  For instance, you can make contact with industry professionals who can advise you on an appropriate nonprofit salary to ask for.  Now that you have this information, let's go over the actual negotiation process.

Yesterday, I linked to an article from USA Today on this very subject.  The author, Alison Green, makes a great point in the opening of her piece: say the specific number you have in mind.  Although you may have heard recommendations to not give a specific dollar amount, the truth of the matter is the employer is going to want to know what you have in mind.  As a matter of fact, as Ms. Green mentions in her article, you will be hard pressed to find a job application that doesn't ask for your salary expectations in your cover letter.  So really, you may have to do some salary negotiations before you are even offered the job.

Once you give your expectations, it's time get down to negotiating.  Now, the best case scenario is that the salary you are asking for matches what the employer is looking to pay you anyway.  Unfortunately, this scenario doesn't always play out, so you have to be prepared for that.  Show that you have done your homework by referencing the information you got from salary surveys and/or other sources.  If a hiring manager realizes you are well informed about the typical nonprofit salary, they may be willing to compromise with you. 

However, if the employer won't budge from a number that you think is unfair, you really have to consider your options.  How desperate are you for this position?  Do you have any other nonprofit jobs that you can turn to if you turn down this one?  Are there opportunities for raises/bonuses in the future at this organization?  Ideally, the interviewer will give you at least a day to consider your options.  But if he/she needs an answer right away, I would take the job.  Unless the salary offered is extremely behind industry standards, you really have to take what you can get in this economy.  Although things are improving, it is still very hard to get a job.  And if you can get one, even if it doesn't pay what you would want in a perfect world, you should consider yourself lucky.


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