Wanna know why nonprofit workers feel overworked and underpaid? Let me present you with Exhibit A:

This is an actual job posting I saw here in Israel- but I’ve seen similar ones in North America. It’s enough to make your blood boil. Yet I guarantee there were people who applied for this job.

Let’s Break It Down

The opening of the job post is innocent enough:

If you are enthusiastic, optimistic, creative and have initiative, ______ has a position as a fundraiser for you. _____, a national organization is looking for a fundraiser.

Fair enough. Next comes what job applicants will be responsible for:

The position includes:

  • Responsibility for the fundraising system
  • Finding new sources of funding
  • Developing partnerships
  • Writing grant requests and reports
  • Maintaining an ongoing relationship with donors
  • Making a yearly income plan
  • Managing and directing fundraising events
  • Directing public relations and composing advertising materials
  • Insuring that funding requests reports are submitted on time

That’s quite a lot because it’s not just fundraising. It’s also marketing, event organization and grant writing.

overworked nonprofit workers

Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

But Wait, There’s More!

The job posting continues…

Additional information

  • This is a key position which defines and implements the fundraising strategy of the organization
  • The position involves working side by side with the CEO
  • The position includes locating fundraising sources in Israel and abroad and working with the commercial sector, the private sector and the government sector including municipalities and foundation.

So let’s tally that up: You’ll need to find donation sources from private donors (local and abroad), foundations, businesses, municipalities and government. That’s quite a lot! Probably a job for two people.  


  • English at mother tongue (obligatory)
  • The ability to speak and write at a high level in English and Hebrew
  • Previous writing experience
  • Fundraising experience
  • The ability to work alone and to work as part of a team
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Creativity and entrepreneurship
  • Marketing skills
  • Experience in organizing events
  • The candidate must own a car and be willing to travel all over the country
  • Preference will be given to someone who is connected to the field of disabilities

You need to be bilungual, able to work with a team and by yourself, know how to organize events and own a car.

Phew! Quite the job posting. I’m sure it pays well, considering the laundry list of requirements and what your responsibilities will be.

I Died A Little Inside

The final line of the ad reads:

This is a half time position which may be extended in the future.


Wanna know why people leave the sector so quickly? Why fundraisers change jobs every 18 months? Because they’re overworked and underpaid. And Exhibit A above is ground zero for this issue.

Before you yell at me “but we don’t have money to pay competitive salaries” I’ve been a CEO. I was responsible for 60 employees and numerous contractors. I get it.

But ya know what works? Spend a buck to make a buck.

Want motivated employees?


It’s not as simple as that but if we want to keep employees and attract the best and the brightest out there, we need to pay a competitive salary. Start with that. Then we can tackle the overworked component. Though to be fair, that’s something that affects the for profit sector as well. But at least they’re well compensated for being on call 24/7.

Sadly, many nonprofit workers just assume that underpaid and overworked comes with the territory. It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be that way.

Because in the end, overworked + underpaid is NOT a recipe for success. It’s a recipe for burnout, high turnover and a sector which suffers today from the EXACT SAME MALADIES it suffered from two and three decades ago.

The more things change…

overworked and underpaid nonprofit workers

P.S. Over the summer I was talking to a nonprofit colleague who had come to a career crossroads: Look for another job in the nonprofit sector or take their skills to the for profit sector. They wanted to be a nonprofit lifer but couldn’t pay the bills at home on a nonprofit salary. My answer?

Move to the for profit sector. If you’re going to be overworked and underappreciated by a boss, at least make a decent amount of money. Then you can take some of your extra earnings and donate it to charities whose missions you identify with. Even better, go volunteer with an org and help affect change.

Maybe you wouldn’t give the same answer. But if nonprofit employees are going to become nonprofit beneficiaries too, get out and don’t come back.

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