How much should charity workers get paid?

Somewhere between “a living wage” and Dan Pallotta is the truth.

To ask a nonprofit professional – and in particular, those who actually have to work to earn a living – to make less money than their for-profit peers is to take advantage of their compassion and altruism.

People (not so much those who donate, because they tend to get it) who scold nonprofit professionals for whining about how little they make compared to their for-profit peers seem to believe that nonprofit professionals are content to suffer. Indeed, that they should have to suffer a little bit.

Consider these scenarios:

When your daughter is in the hospital with a long-term condition, and your family needs a place to stay nearby to be by her side, how much do you think the staff at the Ronald McDonald House – the staff person who’s helping your family get through this ordeal – should make compared to the concierge at Four Seasons?

When Hill Country Conservancy saves more than 5,000 acres of historic and environmentally sensitive land in Onion Creek from being developed into a shopping center, and works with environmentalists; federal, state and local agencies; developers; business leaders; and ranchers to secure that part of Central Texas for you and your grandchildren, how much do you think the Hill Country Conservancy lawyers should make compared to your average real estate attorney?

When we complain that too many of our children are obese, that they’re being fed too much junk food and playing too many video games, and we hear that the staff at the free People’s Community Clinic is teaching mothers about how to make their at-home meals more nutritious, how much should that staff person make compared to the franchise owner who’s opening yet another Church’s Fried Chicken on the East Side?

This is not about how much a nonprofit professional should get paid. It’s about what they’re worth.

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