I haven’t written an original post for some time, and I still don’t feel like it. BUT…I have been thinking of writing about some of the key challenges facing the nonprofit sector, and this article by Paul Taylor in the Globe & Mail takes on one of the most important issues: how the sector hurts its own workers! So, I am creating this blog post to say “Hey, go read this!”
Paul’s premise about providing meals is of course just one example – it doesn’t matter what a particular charity’s mission and related activities might be, the point remains – when we try to market for donations, funding, influence, reputation (or whatever the motivation might be) by distorting the financial costs of our work to sound “efficient” or “affordable” we are simply digging a hole for our own workforce, because the only way that illusion becomes possible is either by a) lying; or b) actually severely underpaying our workers.
In my opinion, the nonprofit sector needs to lead by example on this issue, or frankly, if we do not, we are engaging in a collective exercise in hypocrisy. We are not in a legitimate position for championing any social good if the people doing the championing are being exploited.
Original article: For the sake of the communities they serve, non-profits need to step up in combatting internal inequities – The Globe and Mail
Here’s a snippet:
The non-profit sector is often said to run on passion, and while many workers do feel a deep personal connection to their work, they’re workers just like anyone else.
We do our colleagues a deep disservice when we make statements to the public like “Your $1.00 donation buys a meal for a person in need.” Frankly, there is no possible way that this could be true. $1.00 may cover the cost of ingredients, but who made that meal? Who served it, who supervised the space, and who cleaned up afterward? What were their hourly wages? An immense amount of labour has now been erased in service of a sales-inspired donation pitch.
When the public is primed to believe that charities can operate on pennies, they’ll believe that the labour of non-profit workers should be priced accordingly. As a result, organizations scramble to make up the gaps between what’s been funded (the food) and what hasn’t (the workers). If we want to provide our workers with livable wages, we need to push back on donors who only wish to fund projects – not the people who make them happen. We need to be transparent about the true cost of labour, and advocate for the importance of decent and livable work