Several writers think so, and offer arguments to support their points of view.
Cher Hensrud, Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation, wrote:
Now, if we could all work together to change the ever present mind set that to work for a nonprofit means dedication, hard work, and little pay. To the majority of the people in this country, people work for noprofits just because they are committed--not thinking far enough about it to realize that we all have bills to pay, children to raise, food to eat. The attitude is perpetuated by the sector itself.
Mary Ellen Barnes, Ph.D, a board member of the Harbor Free Clinic in San Pedro, CA added:
I totally agree with what Cher Hersrud wrote regarding nonprofit pay. I worked in the non profit sector for many years (am now self-employed, but on a non-profit board). I always figured that non profit applied to the organization not me. Seriously, I really think we do ourselves a great disservice by accepting jobs where the pay is exceedingly low for the responsibility, experience and/or educational level they require for the job. Saying that we aren't in it for the money, begs the question - we all work for money - that is how we live. Otherwise we would all work as volunteers all the time (and some people do). "I have always felt that if we wouldn't take the jobs that offer insulting low wages, then the organizations would have to pay a respectable wage to get someone good in the job. (that's how it works in the private sector) Why do so many of us go ahead and accept the poor pay anyway? I have never understood this. Teachers do the same thing. Why is this?
Dave Matthews, Administration for Children and Families, responds:
Dear Friends, Great post by Dr. Mary Ellen Barnes on the subject of outrageously low non-profit wages, as reproduced above !! Perhaps from an economist's perspective, it could be argued that the "tools and techniques" available to practitioners in many public service professions have traditionally been relatively primitive and inefficient in relation to the tasks which are being attempted -- such that the economic utility of their output tends to be relatively low. It could be further noted that SOME of these professions are structured in such a way that "almost any durn fool" can enter them and drag down aggregate productivity by inexperience and/or incompetence. We all might hope that our tools and techniques are gradually improving -- becoming more powerful and productive -- and that our RELEVANT professional education, training, and certification are becoming better developed. To be sure, many SUCCESSFUL projects DO produce splendid community economic amd/or social benefits -- completely apart from whether their operators are properly recognized & compensated. From my limited perspective, persons who severely sacrifice their personal and/or economic well-being on the pretext of altruism or humanitarianism need to carefully ask whether they are doing themselves, the rest of us, and -- ultimately -- their target clientele(s) a disservice. The negative as well as positive effects of what I have reluctantly come to describe as "the Jesus Complex" on the professions in question could stand some detailed analysis. Obviously, I have no way to know what Jesus might say to us about such matters, but I'm inclined to think He would favor highly developed, productive, appropriately compensated professional competence, as compared with its opposite. Thus, it would seem perfectly ethical to seek fairness for one's self and one's family in the course of working to help others achieve greater measures of well-being for themselves. (If my views on this subject are in serious error, I'm sure there are knowledgeable biblical scholars among our ranks who can offer contrasting opinions.) Further, to participate professionally in idealistic/ambitious projects which are flawed from the outset by hopelessly inadequate resources -- either in terms of personnel, pay, equipment, facilities, methodologies, etc. -- is merely to set the stage for ignoble failure and reinforcement of conventional wisdom stereotypes that "do-gooder" social & community service projects don't work and are a waste of resources. Precisely because our profession and its projects can SOMETIMES operate in such a marginally productive and/or half-baked fashion -- with accompanying low public/political esteem and accompanying inadequate remuneration -- my own belief is that every true professional in the field would be well-advised to fortify him/her self with the necessary vocational alternatives and personal self-confidence to be able to decline or walk away from "vast new enterprises that are being implemented on the basis of 'half-vast' planning, preparation, and/or resources." It can be argued, of course, that this might lead to abandoning our chosen field(s) of endeavor to the "boobs" who will remain regardless of such circumstances. But, in some specific cases, this may be seen as preferable -- and ultimately more socially responsible -- than continuing to participate and thereby sacrificing one's self in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to "save an ill-provisioned and sinking ship." This, of course, requires tough judgement calls which affect not only individual practitioners, but their families & significant others as well. At least for purposes of discussion, social service providers in certain specific instances might be well advised ask themselves whether there is any instructive analogy to be found in Ayn Rand's fictional account of what happened to the world one fateful day when an accumulation of factors caused all of the world's capitalists -- temporarily -- to "throw in the towel" and quit.