Yesterday Rosetta Thurman and I hosted our second Young Nonprofit Professionals twitter chat (#ynpchat).  For an hour we heard the perspectives from around the world on the following topic: “How can young professionals make more money in this field?” It was a jam packed hour of tips and resources for thriving on a nonprofit salary, not to mention personal reflections.

I’ll just share some key points, question by question.

Q1.  How important is salary to you in your nonprofit job?

For many, salary was seen as just one form of compensation.  As @dan_blakemore stated: Salary is very important, but job satisfaction and autonomy are even more important than that for me.

At the same time, salary isn’t just about money in your pocket, but rather about recognition of talent: @eglouise: I didnt get into np for the money, but at the same time I need to feel valued and know I am advancing.  And as one person noted, low salaries can make it difficult to challenge larger social problems:   @tmsimpson: [Salary is] pretty Important. I have a responsibility to break cycle of poverty in my community & family.

Q2.  Have you ever negotiated a higher salary or better compensation? If so, how?

So many suggestions were offered on how to negotiate a higher salary which reminded me how it is perfectly within your right to ask for more money.  In my experience too often we think we have put in several years or be higher up to ask for a raise when simply that isnt true.  Folks from the #ynpchat agree:

@rosettathurman: In my last position, I negotiated a higher salary every six months I was on the job. I scheduled bi-annual reviews for this

@SarahFischler: Important to make sure u are asking for fair comp and are performing job well. Need to have realistic expectations, too

@JennyGuerrero: Learning new skills & going beyond the lines of your job description can help once time to negotiate salary comes

CrookdRiverWmn: Use fundraising skill to ask for raise/benefits. Look ’em in the eye, make the case, the ask, then shut up! Make them answer.

In sum, we thought it was important to “Be bold, yet informed.”

Q3.  What other forms of compensation can make a not-so-high salary worthwhile?

Many stated that flexible time, vacation days, and telecommuting were great benefits to supplement a lower salary.  However, one suggestion that came up that sparked some debate was from  @commutiny who asked: Permission to develop a side hustle?

@jessica_journey: Yes, you have to address conflict of interest, but definitely do-able

@SarahFischler: My org prohibits this unless very unrelated, so always check employee manual.

I’ve been in organizations where the boss has encouraged us to take on side gigs and allowed us to use the resources in the office to do so.  Additionally, we were given time and money for professional development which, as @rosettathurman noted can lead to side gigs as you increase your network and knowledge.   At the same time, is it resonable to expect support in this regard?  @commutiny explained further “Do I mean permission? In some places this would be better described as endorsement, encouragement & investment!”

Q4.  What have you done to supplement or increase your nonprofit salary?

Responses to this question ran from working at a cafe (ahem, like yours truly) to getting a Masters degree:

@SarahFischler: Masters degree – some immediate benefit but really expect it to pay off long term. definitely gives me more credibility

@thefriendraiser: Teaching…to supplement and to feed a passion. i have the info, why not share it!

@tmsimpson: My 1st #nonprofit job, I was told I would have to wait until someone retired to make more money. From then on, I moved around  [With ridiculousness like that sometimes you just have to leave.]

@JoannaBartlett: I supplement it with freelance work – doing much of the same thing I do at work, but for non-competing organizations

Q5:  What financial habits have helped you thrive on a not-so-high salary?

This question was actually answered in the previous question.  Supplementing salary wasnt just limited to earning income but managing your salary to make your money stretch further:

@CREinNYC: I love and also found by asking more Qs to mentors you can learn a lot about how to live and have fun on a nposalary

@shanellecalvin: Use when I eat out. I increased my investment in my 401k. I try to win or ask for free tickets to events

@tmsimpson: Save, Invest, and learn to enjoy those Cheap, But Deep activities!

@thefriendraiser: marry someone who works in for a Fortune 500 🙂  [HA!]

How would you respond to these questions?

If you couldn’t join the chat, check out the conversation by doing a twitter search.  If you want answers to specific questions include A1, A2, etc in your search with #ynpchat.  Stay tuned for our next twitter chat May 5th at 12pm EST!