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Can You Make Money With A Meaningful Job?


The short answer is yes. Aside from volunteerism, you can make money and have a meaningful career. Meaningful jobs pay a salary, so the question is not whether you can make money doing good, but rather how much. We know there’s a perception that non-profits can’t compete with corporate salaries and that MBAs can even find it more financially optimal to sit on a charity’s board than to work for a charity itself, see our post on Dan Pallotta. So what you’re really wondering is, if that’s the case, is it really worth applying for a meaningful job at all?

While earning potential is often one of the main drivers for professionals, we know that it’s not the most important. But even then, it still matters, and sometimes a lot. Most of us feel defined by our jobs and can feel our worth is equal to how much we’re getting paid.

Whether you’re talking around the water cooler or out for a drink, there’s a social taboo associated with asking our friends, colleagues or superiors how much money they make. Unless their salaries are publicly reported or you find a way to snoop their pay grade it’s really difficult to have a good sense of salary potential.

In a recent CR and Sustainability Salary Survey that covered professionals across corporate, NGO, purpose driven businesses, found the median (middle) salary range is $80K to $112K and the mode (most common) salary range is $50K to 80K.

The study looked mainly at European salaries and respondents representing Chairty/NGO accounted for only 7% of total respondents. So we also explored the Professionals for Non-Profit New York City Salary Survey,  looking at non-profits with operating budgets ranging from $3 million to over $50 million. Here are some salary stats:

CEO: $150K to $310K
CFO: $90k to $240K
VP of Human Resources: $100K to $230K
Director of Development: $80K to $180K
VP Marketing/Communications: $80K to $160K
Accountant: $60K to $90K
Social Media Professional: $50K to $70K
Development Associate: $50K to $70K

If you want to define yourself by your salary then professions like law and investment banking, where Associates can make $200K+, are for you. But, if you want to define your career by what impact you have on the world and what legacy you leave behind, (and not go broke while doing it), join us and be meaningful.

Photo Credit: Philip Taylor

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1 Comment

  1. Justin
    June 27, 2013 at 1:59 am — Reply

    It seems that your data backs up the perception. Would be interesting to know the number of jobs out there (average size of NGOs, how many positions, etc).

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