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7 Salary Negotiation Tips For Young Nonprofit Professionals

What is one salary negotiation tip you would offer to a young professional working at a nonprofit organization?


To help up-and-coming nonprofit professionals with income negotiation, we asked HR experts and business leaders this question for their best advice. From knowing the salary range to considering other benefits, there are several suggestions that may help you broker your salary as you progress in your career. 

Here are seven tips for discussing the terms of your pay and benefits as a nonprofit professional: 

  • Know the Salary Range

  • Push for Negotiation

  • Research For-Profit Compensation

  • Keep a List of Your Wins

  • Avoid Sharing Salary Expectations Upfront

  • Consider Other Benefits

  • Be Flexible in Your Approach

Know the Salary Range 

Ask about the salary range in the job interview if you cannot recall this detail. Do not accept the first offer that is presented to you without knowing the range. Also, do not feel guilty in countering the first offer. Finally, do not get in the habit of counting on your supervisors to advocate for a raise on your behalf. Advocate for yourself!

Push for Negotiation 

Always negotiate your salary! I strongly encourage young professionals, especially women, to push back. Know your worth and the value you bring to the table. If a nonprofit organization is unable to increase the salary, maybe it’s possible to negotiate for other benefits such as a flexible schedule or remote work. The worst they could say is no. Just remember that if they made an offer, the ball is in your court because you know they want you.

Research For-Profit Compensation

Compensation is an area where we, as young professionals, can try to change the social sector’s culture. Too many people are hanging onto this notion that nonprofit professionals should or have to be paid less than their for-profit counterparts. Unfortunately, this is largely based on the public’s perception, and it’ll take time to change that, too. 

However, I would urge young nonprofit professionals to research what the compensation for a similar role in the for-profit sector would be and use that to negotiate a salary that is closer to what you could earn in the for-profit sector. If we want talented, smart people to stay in the nonprofit sector, we have to pay them what they’re worth, and good leaders know that. 

Keep a List of Your Wins

Keep a journal of your minor and major benchmarks for all of your work, such as implementing new systems, workflows, and strategies. Make sure you keep detailed notes on what, why, and how. Tracking your progress and successes in this way will help when you sit down to draft your thoughts, communicate what you have accomplished and the impact you have made. In this regard, keeping a list of long-term goals and “big ideas” will help you showcase your future potential and how you will continue to contribute.

Elise Salomon, Human Services Campus 

Avoid Sharing Salary Expectations Upfront

You want to avoid sharing your salary expectations upfront. Instead, find out more about the role, the company, and their salary range. This is important so that you can make an informed decision. In some instances or industries, nonprofits may have a limited budget for salaries. However, don’t make any decisions based on that assumption. Be clear on your personal needs and expectations and align their needs with yours. 

Rronniba Pemberton, Markitors

Consider Other Benefits

Negotiating an acceptable salary may be hard. However, there are other methods the employee can use. For instance, the employee can ask for a longer vacation. The employee can ask for a parking space. The employee can also ask for performance reviews during which the salary might get raised. They can even ask for commission on top of salary if this is relevant to the job. 

Be Flexible in Your Approach

Be sure to look up the organization’s employment history to determine how it pays before settling for something or making a demand that seems unrealistic. Once you have the information, determine if the gap between your expectations and the offer is simply too large to be bridged or whether there is a middle ground. 

While negotiating, be flexible in your approach and listen to counter offers with an open mind. For example, would a better title persuade you to reduce your quote by some amount? Or, would better benefits make more sense rather than asking for a 10% higher salary? Consider the long-term view when making such decisions, and work towards finding a solution that works for you both.

Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs

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