A nonprofit living wage: because nonprofits should serve poor people, not create them

A nonprofit living wage: because nonprofits should serve poor people, not create them

A nonprofit living wage: because nonprofits should serve poor people, not create them. So thanks to the Independent Sector for endorsing a nonprofit living wage. About f***ing time.

Independent Sector Board of Governors Calls on Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations to Pledge to Pay Living Wage to All Workers

(WASHINGTON, April 29, 2014) – Independent Sector’s Board of Governors has released the following statement:

As the leadership forum for charitable and philanthropic organizations committed to improving communities and lifting up lives, Independent Sector believes that individuals should have the opportunity to earn a life-sustaining wage–that enables them to support themselves and their families. The current federal minimum wage does not do that.

We believe that charitable organizations should be guided by the balanced approach of advancing their missions effectively while striving to pay wages that allow employees to provide adequately for their families, and we therefore support increasing the minimum wage, with some accommodations for nonprofit employers.

Numerous charitable organizations employ seasonal, part-time, and youth employees among others, to provide programs and services that serve the common good. Furthermore, too many of these organizations struggle continuously to meet increased demand for assistance in the face of stagnant, if not declining, revenues. Current federal and state reimbursement rates are insufficient to enable nonprofit organizations to increase wages. Rather than turn away those in need, tens of thousands of these employers balance a commitment to continued employment of staff with benefits, including health care coverage, and providing services to as many people as possible.

Recognizing that these factors may prevent some nonprofit employers from moving immediately to increase wages paid to all employees, we encourage those nonprofit organizations in a position to do so to commit to paying a living wage. In addition, we believe that the current federal minimum wage should be increased and that exceptions for some seasonal, part-time, and youth employees should be considered. And, we call on federal state and local governments to increase reimbursement rates to nonprofit service providers to enable them to increase wages to their employees.

While acknowledging the need to preserve the viability of critical programs upon which millions of Americans rely at a time when donations have been mostly stagnant, IS calls on its members and all charitable and philanthropic organizations to pledge to work towards paying a living wage to their workers whenever possible.

“No one wants to back wage levels so low that supplemental public aid programs are necessary for people to get by,” IS President and CEO Diana Aviv said. “Our charitable community has long been dedicated to ensuring that all people have the opportunity to earn wages that make it possible for them to support themselves and their loved ones.”

“We also recognize that for some organizations, the choice between providing care to vulnerable communities and raising wages is very real and difficult,” Aviv continued. “To obviate such choices we encourage donors to increase their gifts and governments to increase their reimbursement rates.”

Nonprofits interested in joining with IS to work towards a living wage for employees in their own organizations are invited to contact us at livingwage@independentsector.org.

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    The Nonprofiteer is Kelly Kleiman, principal of NFP Consulting, which provides Board development, strategic planning and fund-raising services to charities and philanthropies. Through her consulting practice and in her guise as The Nonprofiteer, Kelly has spent the past 25-plus years helping small and mid-sized nonprofits organize themselves better and raise more money. These days she focuses especially on helping them use high-skill volunteers. Kelly is also a lawyer and freelance journalist whose reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and other dailies; in magazines including In These Times and Chicago Philanthropy; in the alternative press; on websites including the Huffington Post; and on the radio, including the BBC and WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. She and her fellow "Dueling Critic" Jonathan Abarbanel present a weekly podcast of their reviews of Chicago theater at DuelingCritics.net. Earlier in her career she was dean of admissions of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and Executive Director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, and practiced real estate and zoning law with the firm of Rudnick & Wolfe. Kelly holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago. She was a founding Board member of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits and also served for 5 years on the Board of the Association for Women Journalists–Chicago. She can be reached ("Dear Nonprofiteer . . .") at KellyNFP@yahoo.com.

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