How can I convince selfish bosses I should make more money?
December 6, 2006 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Is there an ideal or recommended proportion of management vs. staff salaries? I work at a non-profit, and management salaries are about 40% of total salaries. This seems high to me.

I would be especially interested in any neutral or management generated studies or best practices on this issue--not something produced by a union or a non-profit that people in management would likely disregard as agenda driven or biased.

My goal is to do some convincing of management and/or the board of directors that better pay for the staff who do the real work is a good thing. One way I thought to approach this is to show that we are top heavy and that's not good for the organization.

Moral and ethical arguments are useless. I am looking for solid arguments that higher salaries are good for the agency, not just the staff, because they, for instance, improve cost effectiveness, structural efficiency, advantages over competitors, etc.

FYI--the staff that I am referring to are almost all attorneys (free legal services for the poor) and unionized.
posted by Mavri to Work & Money (3 answers total)
If your non-profit is analyzed by Charity Navigator or other similar charity evaluators, an overly generous management pay package as a percentage of the budget will often raise flags with potential donors. (In fact, Charity Navigator encourages donors to look at CEO compensation as a percentage of total expenses.) Raising the salaries of staffers will soften the percpetion that management is overpaid as a percentage of total expenses and allow the organization to attract and keep highly qualified and competent people.
posted by ambrosia at 12:38 PM on December 6, 2006

It is difficult to generalize about non-profit organizations. But you might try benchmarking with similar legal service programs. Maybe NLADA has done studies? Or you may be able to gather information from peers in other agencies.
posted by Snerd at 4:09 PM on December 6, 2006

40%, if it is purely management and provides no direct services to clients, is very, very high. My non-profit is at about 15% total non-service related expenses. I would consider anything higher than that out of the range of reasonable compensation for management.

My guess is that, if the board is aware of this, they support it for some reason, if not they just need the figures, and comparison numbers from other similar sized non-profits in your area (geographic and service).
posted by HuronBob at 5:44 PM on December 6, 2006

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