I had an interesting debate about NGOs recently. We were discussing if it is ethical to have high salary while working for a non-profit. I was representing the minority who stand stand in . In the opposite side of the table were couple of (really pro-social) girls, who were fiercely advocating the notion that “if you want to help people, you don’t care about money”.
I claimed that you can definitely be both. You can be altruistic, care about NGO’s mission and still want to be well paid for your work.
I claim there is nothing wrong or sick about being well paid in NGOs, because if NGO would not appreciate its best employees, they would go somewhere else.
This is the point, where these girls would suggest, that it is a sign of bad people. People who would go elsewhere because of money. But you have to realize that NGOs are companies as well. The competition works there in the same way as it works in huge private companies.
If you spent lots of years and money in your education and training, you are the top class in your job, you certainly deserves to be evaluated adequately. It is not about steeling the money from the NGO (and the poor starving African orphans), because if you are that capable, you are able to bring the money back to. If you have passion about its mission and you are truly committed to “do good”, you will find a way how to do it.
Also, if you are that kind of person who I am talking about, you know very wel what is to work for free, just because you want to. These people probably started as volunteers, because they wanted to gain skills and knowledge and they wanted to change something. After years of volunteering and years of schooling, when they make it to the top, they just should not have the similar amount of money as the people they are trying to help to. That is just not fair.
Well, there is of course a line. I do not know where, but there is. When saying well paid, I do not mean to take non-reasonable money like the hockey players do. I simply mean not making such a big difference between salary of CEO of lets say …. Red Cross and CEO of Volvo. Even people from Volvo care about its mission, they think that what they do matters and they want to make people’s life better (or they should).
Than where is the difference?