Catalyst, Leadership, Philanthropy

Managing Expectations

Years ago I interviewed for a job and during the process I was told the salary was based on the pay grid of school teachers in the region. That was quite appealing, but the actual salary offered was quite a bit less. It seems the salary grid was a basis only in terms of being something they looked at, cut down by 25%, and then modified by several other factors. It was a disappointing aspect of an otherwise very exciting opportunity. In the years since that event I have encouraged many young adults when they pursue work in nonprofit and ministry roles that the taboo discussion about compensation should be surfaced very early in the process and with frank openness. Not doing that creates the potential for people to invest significant time and energy in a recruiting process that ultimately becomes pointless and frustrating when something so simple as dollars is finally revealed. One of the causes is a cultural expectation in church circles that is someone is “called” to a role they will trust God to provide for them. To even ask the salary is somehow inappropriate and unspiritual. After all, we don’t do this kind of work for the money… Just once I’d love to hear a candidate turn that around and ask the search committee if they are willing to be the ones to act in faith and place a generous full year’s salary in a designated account because they trust God to provide the needed resources. This does relate to Catalyst. When we are approached by leaders and organizations who are interested in applying for our funding there is some risk that I can give the impression that we are likely to offer support when we really are not. I realize that in our current funding cycle I may have done this inadvertently, simply because our strategies are becoming more apparent as we work through applications. Today in a conversation with a new contact I was complimented for my honesty when I explained that I thought it unlikely that we would be interested in supporting the projects under discussion. Apparently it isn’t common for donors to do this. It should be.