Does a not-for profit’s CEO’s salary matter?


How much compensation is too much?

It was reported in an anonymous email that the the CEO of UNICEF earns over $1 million a year and drives a Rolls Royce; causing horrendous backlash in the public eye.  The charity valiantly rebutted "These assertions are false!" and continues on to  report what the CEO really makes: "As President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Caryl Stern earns $454,855.00, she does not have a company car; she drives a 2007 Prius which she purchased in 2009." - Wow take that public, and shove it up your.. 

Here is the thing about that...

I've seen this debated on a myriad of forums and this topic over what compensation an employee of a not-for profit is entitled to is a very tricky one to argue, as each side presents compelling arguments...  

Deserve High Salary

"Not for profit employees do just as much work (if not more) than for profit companies, so why shouldn't they make as much?!"

"If we live below a certain income we will lose incentive to do our jobs properly"  

"We invest so much in our education to get these jobs, we wont be able to pay back our student loans"

"Without our paid aid these communities we work with would not be privy to our relief efforts"

Don't Deserve High Salaries

Your salaries are being paid by public donations

People volunteer to do your jobs for free 

That money could be going somewhere better

Profiting off of Poverty

It is in my opinion that fair wages and inflated wages (that model for-profit structures of monetary entitlement) reflect the organizations personal attitude towards poverty and the distribution of wealth in the world. 

 My biggest concern is that a decent amount of the overseas charities are designed to combat poverty. In order to effectively combat poverty you must first acknowledge that there is a disproportionate wealth and power relationship between nations in the world.

With that knowledge comes the reality that certain people are hoarding wealth and resources in such abundance that the majority of the world’s population live in squalor as a direct result.

 If a CEO of a major Charity is not willing to internalize that then they have absolutely NO business advocating for the poor.  

It is a hard concept to swallow, but I believe that when you decide to dedicate your career to abolishing poverty it has to come hand and hand with the discipline to properly budget your own income and lifestyle. 

This is why charities tackle the what happened and not the why it's happening; provide relief instead of attacking the systemic reasons that created the in-balance in the first place. This is because if they did, they would become obsolete and lose their jobs.

 According to reports from this 99% movement "To make it in to the notorious top one per cent of earners in the U.S., it is necessary to have an annual income over $500,000."

That puts our UNICEF CEO's annual salary just under the 1% by $45,145 that I am sure is made up through expense accounts and an extravagant befits package.   

So what to do? 

Make CEO"s personally accountable for their luxurious lifestyles, let's raise the bar for these "advocates of the poor." I feel justified in refusing to support an organization that's members are double dipping in the moral superiority of being an authority of global poverty and living among the 1%. It is hypocritical, and no true change will ever come about from the minds of those who opt to be wealthy. Support efforts that seek to maximize their social capital before their personal profits at any costs and weed out those that take advantage of an already damaged system. 

 SIDEBAR If anyone else out there is like me and may be intrinsically cynical about not-for profit funding as it relates to operations and effectiveness you probably frequent the same nonprofit watchdogs like Charity Navigator.

 I've noticed something (not totally insignificant) about the relationship between Charity Navigator's Top 10 highest paid CEOs and UNICEF.

In Charity Navigators Top Ten Lists, the only list referring the the salaries of CEO's is titled "10 Highly Paid CEOs at Low Rated Charities with the highest salary falling to Citi Performing Arts Center totaling $431,697. This strategic citing, along with the fact that UNICEF links to Charity Navigator in their rebuttal to the allegations against them implies that there was discussion between the two organizations. Therefore it can only be assumed that UNICEF has influence over Charity Navigator in some fashion because the top 10 list has been manipulated to omit the inflated salaries within UNICEF.

 The following photo is email proposing the false allegations against UNICEF:


Monetary Incentives for Charity Workers 

In the following Ted Talk Dan Pallotta presents an argument that offering a monetary incentive to work in charities will essentially attract efficient professionals to the industry and make a social declaration for what is worth valuing in society. He claims: "This economic starvation of our nonprofits is why I believe we are not moving the needle on great social problems." However I beg to differ. It is the social drive to consume in excess that has created a plague of western affluenza. Affluenza is a socially transmitted condition found predominantly in the west in which individuals become so obsessed with accumulating wealth that they begin to lose touch with reality and loosen their moral compass for their relentless pursuit for profits. 

I submit that this disease is the root cause of global poverty; and we need to redefine what constitutes an incentive rather than who is entitled to inflated wages. I purpose that we need to scrutinize and reform what for-profit executives are legally entitled to earn much like we do for non-profits.