Advocacy Corner

Gail Elberg and Christine Sorrels

Advocacy Corner
Gail Elberg and Christine Sorrels
Volunteer Leaders’ Salaries and Negotiating a Raise
One of the purposes of the AL!VE Advocacy Committee is by definition is to be the voice for the cause of people who manage volunteers.

Before AL!VE, there may not have been a resource or peer group for some volunteer managers to utilize for information, such as median volunteer managers’ salaries, or how a volunteer manager should go about negotiating a raise.

It is easy to find web locations that explain what a volunteer’s hour is worth. For example, Independent Sector calculates that, in 2008, the average hourly wage for a volunteer was $20.11.
What about actual paid salaries of volunteer managers, coordinators, or leaders? Research shows it can be as varied as a manager’s education and experience, or as broad based as the various regions of the country or world where the manager lives and works.

For example, a Canadian study found that one-quarter of respondents were paid less than $20,000; another quarter were paid between $30-40,000, and only 22% were paid over $40,000.

By contrast, Australia and New Zealand have among the highest paid volunteer management industries, with salaries ranging two times that of their peers in the US.
In the U.S., the Nonprofit Times found, in 2005 that directors of volunteers made an overall average of $38,428, but pay scales varied from $28,800 to $85,000 depending on organizational budget and regional location. (To find local salary information, try CareerBuilder’s Salary Calculator.)
More recently The New York Association for Volunteer Administration (NYAVA) recently announced findings from its 2009 Professional Profile and Salary survey. According to the NYAVA survey it shows that Volunteer Management salaries in the New York Metro area are concentrated in the $40,000-$60,000 range. There is some correlation between salary and title, with Directors and Managers earning more. Volunteer Coordinator generally had salaries in the $20,000-$40,000 range. 15% of respondents had reported being "restructured" or "laid-off" in the past year, an impact of the financial crisis which has hit nonprofit organizations especially hard. For more information visit there site at

According to, volunteer service director jobs’ median salaries run as follows: Northeast $63.8K, Middle Atlantic $63.8K, South, $62.9K, Midwest $65.1K, and the West $69.1K. Those who are making well below the median salary might be asking, “where are those jobs?!”
One of those jobs might someday be yours. One role of ALIVE’s Advocacy Committee is to spread the word that volunteer managers’ salaries should be commensurate with manager salaries in other industries.

So, how to go about negotiating salaries or raises?
1. Do Your Homework. How many volunteers would you be managing? What have the donated hours consistently been? How much money would you be saving the organization? Knowing answers to questions like these allows you to ask for fair compensation.

2. Be Realistic About Job Experience and Accomplishments. Knowing what you can reasonably expect in a salary requires honest assessment of your skills, abilities, and potential for success.

3. Focus on the Big Picture. Educate yourself on what the organization’s standards really are. If you seek a large salary, but will be miserable in that position, do not delude yourself into thinking you can change the status quo.

4. No Pity Parties. During salary negotiation, an employer or board does not want to hear about financial pressures such as debt, obligations, or maintaining lifestyle. Employers will also quickly screen out candidates who are all about the money and not about the contribution and advancement of the volunteer organization.

5. Prioritize. Compile a simple list to order what is most important. A shorter commute or good medical benefits may outweigh a larger salary. Or, maybe more vacation time is what is most crucial. Have the desired total compensation package written down, but include a little wiggle room, and be willing to play hardball on the points of most significance.
With these thoughts in mind, hopefully you will achieve top-dollar salary goals.

As the Advocacy Committee continues to develop strategies for volunteer manager success, keep AL!VE’s website on the “favorites” toolbar, and, as Shirley Conger stated in the last issue, “We invite you to become involved in one of our committees or work groups.” Please email your questions or wishes to



Newsletter - February 2010

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