Question : I received an offer for a position as an Institutional Giving Manager. In addition to my salary, I will receive a « bonus » if I reach the fundraising target set by the director. Is this appropriate?
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Fred Niell • Non-profit boards are always seeking ways to apply their expertise to non-profits. In one sense that’s why they are on the board, to gain their expertise. However, this one crops up all the time: an entrepreneurial board wants to meet their goals, so the first thing they imagine is how great it would be to incentivize the fundraiser. All manner of schemes come up, including straight commission, sliding scales, bonuses, and so on. Traditionally we have shied away from such schemes because they encourage the fundraiser to go after short-term deals, donors whose goals are incompatible with those of the organization, and donors whose reputation or actions could be quite damaging to the non-profit.
A bonus is perhaps more innocuous than commissions, but ultimately it ties your income to the number of dollars you generate, and a thoughtful non-profit board would realize that such ties can put the fundraiser’s goals at cross-purpose with the non-profit’s goals.
If you really like the organization, you might want to restructure that to be a bonus at the end of the first year, or a guaranteed raise going into the second year of your contract. Good luck.
Eileen Minogue • I agree with Fred. After the first year of starting my organization, my board wanted to incentivize me with a bonus if I met certain criteria. My answer to them was that it would not make me work any harder, my heart is in the mission and I will always be doing my best. I additionally said that if they like what they see, they could show it in my raise. They were very appreciative for my honesty, and I when I exceeded all of my goals, they stood by our discussion and recognized my efforts in my salary increase. Best of luck.