Our Opening article this issue focuses on an often-overlooked, critical part of the nonprofit workforce: low-wage workers. We also have two great articles on another neglected part of the workforce, volunteers: Our First Person Nonprofit story comes from a frustrated, would-be volunteer, and Susan Ellis contributes a provocative Board Cafe column on the board's responsibilities for volunteers. And don't miss our signature Take a 3-Minute Vacation Right Now. We also want to thank new donors . . . like public radio, we depend on you! (See "Join and support Blue Avocado in right column to donate.) Now, on to our lead article for this issue: Low-Wage Workers and Nonprofits.
Let's look at two uncomfortable facts:
1. Many, many jobs in the nonprofit sector are low-wage jobs: child care workers, intake workers, database clerks, nonprofit housing custodians, door-to-door canvassers, elder care workers, support staff in the arts, home health care aides . . . in short, a very large proportion of jobs in human services, in advocacy, in education, in the arts, and in health care.
2. While raising salaries would be, by far, the best way to support these important staff, doing so isn't possible for most nonprofits: certainly not in the short term, and often impossible for the long term given business models and funding constraints.
And, perhaps most uncomfortable of all for nonprofit leaders, the discussion about salaries and job retention has focused on the people at the top of organizations: the executive staff and program . . . Read more