Even Small Nonprofits Should Have Paid Staff

<Donning my Kevlar suit now.>

I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this article. A lot of good rescues are going to disagree. But we need to start paying people to do stuff.

Most rescues, especially the smaller ones -- as fast as they raise money, it goes right out the door for vet expenses, transport fees, and boarding. They rely on volunteers only -- even for the directors. The idea of paid staff seems wasteful and irresponsible.

But hear me out.

First, charitable organizations are the third largest employment sector in the US, right behind the service industry and manfacturing. It's not somehow wrong or unAmerican to pay people a fair wage.

Second, even the best volunteers have to prioritize their time and guess what? Volunteer activities come in dead last on the list.

Third, when you proudly proclaim that you're all all volunteer organization with no paid staff, other people and entities you're asking for help start wincing.

  • That volunteer website developer knows it will be like pulling teeth to get info for the website.
  • The home visit coordinator (also a volunteer) will know that scheduled home visits to prospective adopters can get delayed due to family needs. (Value bomb here: pay a pet sitter to do home visits.)
  • The volunteer fundraiser knows it will take forever to get approval on emails, newsletters, fundraisers, and programs.
  • Volunteer grant writers will prioritize paid work over your stuff. Deadlines will be missed, or proposals turned in missing info and details.

Here's what will happen if you start paying people to do stuff. 

  • More stuff will get done.
  • More lives will be saved.
  • Your stress level will go WAY DOWN.
  • You'll rase more money than you thought posible.

Even one part time staffer will more than pay for themselves in terms of funding raised AND expansion of services. Raise the money to pay people and you'll see that investment come back to the group multiple time over.

Besides, it's the right thing to do.

Nonprofits should be the epitome of wage fairness and employee satisfaction.

We need to model what we want to see in the world.

Think you can't afford it? Let's talk. Or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.