#HoldingPowerAccountable #Change #KnowYourWorth

Hello, I am Teresa Holman, a student at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). I am a senior working as an NPC intern through my field training program in Collaborative Health and Human Services.

Chris Talbot-Heindl, a communications professional and perpetually underpaid non-profit employee residing in Denver, Colorado recently overheard the Executive Director of their agency share on a podcast, “Our non-profit employees aren’t getting paid enough to meet their basic needs.” 

The podcast resulted in a fluff-free article written by Talbot-Hindle entitled “Underpaid Staff Don’t Need Motivation, They Need Dollar Bills and Benefits.”

Talbot-Heindl’s writing concludes “Underpaying in the nonprofit sector isn’t a reality, it is a choice.” The author shares ideas with non-profit leaders on how to help their employees financially while gaining the respect and trust of their workers. The suggestions include:

  •   A 30-hour workweek
  • Consider the 30-hour workweek full-time and offer benefits (if you are not paying your employees generously)
  • Re-evaluate your Personal Time Off (PTO) Policy
  • Offer free childcare during work events
  • Ask your employees what type of benefits they need (If employers are hiring diversely the needs will not be in unison)
  • Close the office one week a year for employee mental health purposes. (Stagger the   employees’ time-off if necessary)
  • Offer healthy employee gifts/rewards
  • Pay your employees more

These recommendations are shared by the author (Chris Talbot-Heindl ((they/them))) anself-professed queer, trans nonbinary, triracial artist, and nonprofit employee after receiving a full scholarship to the University of Hard Knocks (UHK). In fact, this scholarship was sponsored in full by their previous non-profit employers! The stay at UHK provided life-long memories and lessons, such as: moving themself, their spouse, and cat, out of state, only to find out they would be paid an unlivable wage. They were also at one time rewarded for their hard work with unhealthy/fatty foods, such as employee pizza parties that contribute to low work productivity from sugar crashes, food allergies, and eventually mood swings.  Another non-profit employer offered them gift cards to stores they could not afford to shop at on their salary (even with a gift card which paid for half) and finally, a non-profit employer even bartered paying them lower wages in exchange for shelter/ free rent in an unlivable, falling apart, trailer..

This author’s takeaway from the article is the importance of self-worth and self-value.  I have been an underearner myself merely because I was afraid to ask for what I needed (negotiate my wages) before signing my employment contract. (It was not because I lacked education or skill set.) Employers are going to offer what they think they can get away with; I learned along the way, painfully, wage negotiations are a form of self-respect.

 Ciao for now,

Teresa Holman



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