Get the Raise You Deserve

You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. If you’re a fundraiser with exceptional value and can muster a certain amount of negotiating finesse, there is almost always the possibility of a raise.

Timing is important; it’s best to act when your perceived value is at its greatest. For many, that will mean right after a great review or after involvement in a critical fundraising initiative. Conversely, immediately after major layoffs or the loss of a significant source of funding would be an inopportune time to ask.

Strategies to Get the Raise You Deserve

1.  Be an expert on your nonprofit and your boss.

Learn about your organization’s budget and any limitations that may have been imposed upon salaries. What kind of person is your boss? Will she care that you had to take out a home equity loan and are now struggling to make the payments? Some bosses do care about personal issues; many others do not.

If your boss is a numbers-driven kind of guy, you should back up your request with hard, cold facts about your fundraising success. If she tends to focus on cost-saving, think about how you’ve saved the nonprofit money in the recent past. Always consider what your boss values the most.

2.  Leverage your talent.

Finding and retaining great fundraisers is a big challenge that nonprofits face, regardless of their size, mission, or current economic conditions. When times are tough, successful nonprofits don’t forget that they must have the right people in place for when things pick up.

Don’t underestimate your value to your organization. The act of asking for a raise might cause higher-ups to be concerned that you’re thinking about leaving, which can be a good thing for you.

3.  Show your worth.

Make a list of your accomplishments and ensure that your boss knows about them. When times are tough, if nonprofits are going to reward anyone, it’s going to be employees who produce the greatest value for them.

  • Consider what makes you indispensable. If you realize that you’re not indispensable, start looking for things that will increase your necessity to the organization.
  • What can you do that no one else is capable of or willing to do?
  • What new responsibilities or tasks do you have since your last raise?
  • Are you being required to take work home at night?
  • Do you have more employees or volunteers reporting to you?
  • Are you forced to travel more?

If your responsibilities have increased significantly, you can make a good case for deserving an increase in your salary.

4.  Demonstrate that you care.

The very best fundraisers also tend to be those who care the most about the mission. Your boss knows which fundraisers are genuinely interested in the success of the nonprofit.

  • What are you doing to show you care?
  • How do you represent the organization to your friends, family, and the community-at-large?
  • Do you volunteer at organization events on your days off?

 5. Maintain a positive attitude.

When times are difficult, it can be challenging to remain upbeat, but nonprofits don’t want to deal with complaining gifts officers. Positive employees will be viewed as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Get to work on time (or earlier) and try not to head for the parking lot at exactly 5 p.m. every day.

6.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Just as when seeking a donation, you actually have to ask. Asking for a raise can be an uncomfortable experience, but if you feel that you genuinely deserve it, you owe it to yourself and your family to go for it. Gather the information you need, and set a goal to ask by a certain date.

Practice in front of the mirror or with a friend or family member. During your daily commute, recite what you’re going to say to your boss. Confidence in your message will help calm your nerves. You can do it!

Have a number in mind. Simply stating “I’d like a raise” isn’t as effective as saying “I’d like a $6,500 raise; here’s why I think I deserve it.” Determine a specific amount that you believe you can justify, and present your case.

Challenging economic times don’t eliminate the possibility of receiving a raise. There may be fewer raises given out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t receive one. Don’t underestimate the importance of excellent fundraisers to their nonprofits. If you can show your value, you’re far more likely to be successful when asking for a raise.