Are You Paid What You're Worth? Nonprofit vs. Forprofit Salaries

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 04/09/2008 - 10:42am

Are you paid what you're worth?

It's an interesting question. I think most of us in the nonprofit sector -- especially on the tech side of things -- know that it wouldn't be too hard to walk out the door and find a higher paying job. But does that mean you aren't being paid what you're worth?

Last week, we had an interesting exchange on the NTEN Discuss list about this and other salary related questions. It  began with a simple ask (paraphrasing here): "My boss wants to pay a network admin $40k a year. That's not reasonable, is it?" This led to a discussion about what tech staff make in nonprofits vs. for profits.

The answer is, as far as I can surmise, about 25-30% less.

But how real are those number? NTEN Member Jenny Council sent me a link to a TechRepublic Salary report a while back, and I finally got around to doing some numbers comparison with our IT Staffing Survey report on NPTech salaries.

Let's start with the straight up comparison of a few analogous job titles from both reports:

  TechRepublic Survey
NTEN Staffing Survey
% Difference
CTO $99,894
Project Manager
Network Administrator $65,567
Webmaster/Developer $62,658
IT Support

At first glance, it seems easy just to say that nonprofits pay a LOT less than their for-profit counterparts -- but there's one important thing to keep in mind: size of the organization/company really impacts how much they pay staff. The bigger you are, the more you generally pay. Check out this excerpt of a graph from our salary survey (the "Very Large" organizations are the lavender bars on the far right).

What we don't have is equivalent data from the TechRepublic survey. I'd be really interested to see if these numbers would line up more closely if we filtered by revenue/budget size of the organization.

But I do expect that a gap of some size would remain.

So I ask you: if you were drafting a job description, would you look at the nonprofit benchmark or the for-profit benchmark? And do you think nonprofits should try to close that pay gap or do we all need to accept working for "a cause" as part of our pay?