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Don’t Be Nervous to Ask for a Raise

By Ashley Gatewood posted 09-20-2021 10:55

Being paid what you’re worth is essential to your on-the-job satisfaction. Everyone loves a bargain, but no staff member should be a bargain to their employer. You deserve to be compensated fairly, a fact any reputable employer acknowledges.

A 2019 Chronicle of Philanthropy article reported 55 percent of fundraisers say they “often feel unappreciated” in their work.

Earning what you deserve is a cornerstone of feeling seen and valued.

Asking with an airtight reason
When requesting a raise, you’re asking for your salary to align with the level of work, education, and skills you bring to your role.

You’re not asking for increased pay because you took on a heftier mortgage or need to make your child’s tuition payments. Your case for a raise should rest on being properly compensated for your work contributions, not personal financial needs.

Adding responsibilities
Jobs aren’t static, which is precisely why your salary shouldn’t be.

Imagine you were hired as a director of development to lead a team of three managers and two coordinators. Eighteen months later your department has expanded to five managers and four coordinators.

Overseeing additional staff is not an insignificant amount of extra work. It’s time to speak with your boss if your compensation has not been recalibrated to account for expanded duties.

Shifting job expectations
You signed an employment contract that outlined your roles and responsibilities. When your boss’ expectations shift significantly, your original package may not reflect your current level of commitment and responsibilities.

Perhaps you took a major gift officer role with an expectation you would travel 20 percent of the time. Then, your organization decided to amp up in-person visits and travel expanded to 40 percent.

Extra days on the road and nights at Hilton Garden Inns certainly cut into your personal life. Your organization should move the needle on your compensation to reflect new work patterns and expectations.

Recognizing qualifications
Your fundraising know-how is the jet fuel of not only your role but your fundraising department’s success.

Earning a fundraising certification or diploma is no small feat. Your organization should recognize the time and energy you devoted to the course as well as your newly expanded body of fundraising knowledge.

In the U.S. and Canada, CFREs earn on average 10 – 25% more than non-CFREs with comparable experience (Source: AFP 2021 Compensation and Benefits Report). Certified fundraising professionals can command a higher salary because the CFRE process provides third-party validation of your knowledge of best practice fundraising, giving your boss peace of mind.

At the outset, set expectations for both sides on how earning qualifications can impact your pay. Don’t be afraid to inform your boss you’re intending to pursue a certification or diploma and explore how it will translate financially.

If your boss agrees to give you a raise upon completing a course of study, get it in writing. You’ll cover yourself in the event your boss departs the organization before you receive that diploma.

Timing your conversation
As a fundraising professional, you know perfectly well about timing conversations. Discussions about a raise are no different.

Beware of asking for a raise too soon after starting a job. Your first year is prime time for you and your employer to assess each other. It’s impossible to have a completely clear understanding of a position until you’ve started working in it.

Remember, the same goes for your boss. They can only truly evaluate your work style, contributions, ability to mesh with the team, and professionalism after seeing your work in action.

Asking for a raise within the first year can be perceived as tone deaf.

Be in-the-know about when salary changes are made. Many organizations evaluate all staff at the same time annually before adjusting packages. If your annual review is in December, broaching the topic of a raise in April may make you appear out of sync with organizational procedures.

A conversation worth having
Savvy employers have a vested interest in retaining top performers. The fundraising world is no stranger to employee churn. It is far easier (and more beneficial) for an employer to keep a star team member than fill a vacancy.

If your salary doesn’t align with your performance, workload, or hours, you have solid grounds for making a case for a raise. Use Glassdoor and compensation reports to assess what others with your job title in your geographic location are earning. If you’re being paid below market rate, voice it.

You are your best advocate. Don’t shy away when it comes to asking for what you deserve.