A weekly rundown of the latest fundraising news, ideas, and trends gathered by our fundraising editor Eden Stiffman and other Chronicle contributors. You’ll also find insights from your fundraising peers. Delivered every Wednesday.

From: Emily Haynes

Subject: The Fight for Pay Equity in the Nonprofit World

Welcome to Fundraising Update. This week, we’re diving into the debate over salary disclosure in nonprofit job ads. Plus, what the Supreme Court ruling on California’s donor-disclosure law means for fundraisers.

I’m Emily Haynes, staff writer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, filling in for your usual correspondent, Eden Stiffman. If you have ideas, comments, or questions about this newsletter, please write me.

Thanks to sponsor DonorPerfect for supporting Fundraising Update.

A Primer on the Salary Disclosure Debate

I spent Sunday watching the Wimbledon men’s tennis final. It was a beautiful match, with Matteo Berretini and Novak Djokovic playing an aggressive, powerful game. They kept my head on a swivel for nearly three and a half hours. I’m thinking about that now as I watch the back-and-forth on salary disclosure at nonprofits. Here’s a primer on the debate.

In our pages, the conversation began in late June, when Vincent Robinson, managing partner at the executive search company 360 Group, served up the case against including salary ranges on advertisements for job openings at nonprofits. The push for salary disclosure is backed by the #ShowTheSalary campaign, which aims to advance equity through salary transparency.

Equity is a goal Robinson says his firm is particularly focused on. Ninety percent of the executives for whom the 360 Group finds positions at nonprofits and foundations are people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, and people with disabilities, according to Robinson. He argues that salary disclosures on job descriptions can deter these candidates — who often receive lower compensation than their peers — from pursuing executive opportunities.

Instead of posting salaries, Robinson encourages nonprofits to search for candidates over a longer time frame to ensure that they reach a diverse pool. Among other suggestions, he advocates building a search committee that is as diverse as the candidates you hope to attract for the position.

Readers vigorously responded to Robinson’s opinion piece with multiple letters to the editor. Mike Geiger, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, called Robinson’s opinion “misguided and harmful.” Salary disclosure, he wrote, should be one of a number of steps — including extensive search periods and other strategies Robinson recommends — that nonprofits take to attract diverse candidates.

“How can he believe that’s a good idea when the research shows that a lack of salary transparency contributes to hiring inequity and reinforces gender and race wage gaps in the fundraising profession and society as a whole?” he wrote.


Now my colleague Drew Lindsay has taken a deep dive on the debate. His newest article looks at a strategy employed by Vu Le, the former nonprofit executive who runs the blog Nonprofit AF. Le criticizes organizations that post advertisements for open positions that don’t indicate how much the job would pay — a practice he calls “salary cloaking.” Last month alone, he fired off 15 call-out tweets, sometimes several in one day.

Le and other advocates make a simple argument: Without salary details, job candidates enter pay negotiations at a severe disadvantage. Research indicates that women and workers of color face bias in pay talks and don’t fare well; partly as a result, they are paid less than their white male counterparts. Without a salary range, they are robbed of information that would strengthen their bargaining position and make negotiations more objective.

Research has not yet plumbed whether featuring pay in job ads improves equity in compensation. Such analysis is likely, as Colorado became a natural test case after it enacted a law in January that requires employers to include salaries in job postings.

Research on the effects of recent state laws prohibiting employers from asking for salary histories has underscored Le’s argument. A similar study of U.S. public universities having to comply with new state public-disclosure laws found the difference between salaries for men and women shrank from 9 percent to 3 percent. The researchers, from the University of Utah and the HEC Paris business school, said that salaries available for all to see “pressured employers to more aggressively remedy inequities.” (They also warned the public airing of salaries can create strife in the workplace; transparency, wrote the University of Utah’s Todd Zenger in Harvard Business Review, “creates an expanded playground for our comparisons” and heightens employee obsession with pay.)

Closing pay gaps will require more than simply adding dollar signs to an advertisement, Le and others say. They campaign for better compensation for nonprofit workers generally. Some urge groups to link executive salaries to the wages of the lowest-paid workers to prevent gaping holes in their pay scales. They also call on groups to remove education requirements, which can stymie qualified candidates.

For more details on the fight over salary disclosure, read Drew’s full story. And stay tuned for more coverage as my colleagues and I continue to follow the debate.

Hear From You

What does the debate about salary ranges in job ads mean for fundraising? Do you think the practice should be more or less widely adopted? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

A Tool to Attract Supporters on Facebook

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has long been known for its fundraising walks in which participants raise money to fight breast cancer. Revenue from those events has dwindled in recent years, and the pandemic pushed it over the edge, forcing the charity to close its local chapters.

For years, Komen has received donations from supporters who raise money on Facebook for their birthdays, says Michelle Strong, the group’s vice president of marketing strategy. But as Facebook users shifted their attention to causes on the pandemic’s front lines, the amount of revenue from those drives plunged 40 percent.

My colleague Eden Stiffman reports on how Komen experimented with new ways to connect with supporters. This year, the organization has found some success using a Facebook-based fundraising tool built by the social-media fundraising firm GoodUnited. The product helps charities create fundraising challenges in the social media giant’s groups, Messenger, and advertising.

The idea is to create excitement and a sense of community similar an in-person event.

Another major selling point: Charities that use the tool receive donor information that’s not available from Facebook’s built-in fundraising technology.

“We saw the opportunity to introduce a new way to invite people to be a part of a fundraiser as a group instead of an individual fundraiser that they’re setting up on their own,” Strong says. “It’s an opportunity to really engage and touch more folks than maybe your traditional streams have been able to in the past.”

Read Eden’s full story for more details on how Komen is using the tool in its fundraising.

Need to Know

6 to 3

— U.S. Supreme Court’s vote to strike down California’s donor-disclosure requirement

Fundraisers’ eyes were on the U.S. Supreme Court on July 1, when the justices overturned a California donor-disclosure law that critics said was a needless intrusion on donor privacy and would hurt giving.

The California law required charities raising money in the state to privately disclose the names of major donors to state regulatory officials. State officials argued the disclosure requirement helped ensure that tax-exempt organizations were serving a charitable purpose and would help ferret out fraud. Opponents said it violated the First Amendment and that it could endanger donors who give to controversial but legitimate charitable causes.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said California’s harvesting of donor information from a section of the informational tax forms charities file, known as Schedule B, was too broad, argued such information accounted for a minuscule number of leads in state fraud investigations, and said the state had other avenues to ferret out fraud.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito wrote separate concurring opinions. Justices Sonya Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan dissented.

Powerful groups lined up on both sides of the case. The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which was funded by billionaire and conservative activists Charles Koch and his now-deceased brother David Koch, led the charge to overturn the California law.


  • My colleague Michael Theis reported on a recent study of donor-advised funds — one of the first ever to look at these funds on a micro level. The study found lackluster levels of giving from donor-advised funds held at Michigan community foundations. Over half of the funds give less than 5 percent of their assets on average each year. The findings are fueling demands for passage of a Senate bill that would spur donors to do more to disburse the funds faster.

    The study found that in 2020, 35 percent of those funds distributed no money, 22 percent distributed less than 5 percent of their assets, and 43 percent distributed more than 5 percent. Across the entire four-year period covered in the study — 2017 through 2020 — 86 percent of the advised-fund accounts gave money to working charities.

  • When the pandemic struck last March, LA Family Housing officials had to scramble to change how it carries out its work and persuade donors to support the organization. Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, chief executive of the homeless services group, is getting back to in-person meetings, but she is confident online ones will continue to be popular with donors. She has also experimented with other forms of digital communication. For example, last year she kept donors up-to-date on the nonprofit’s work by having a staff member videotape her walking through new housing sites to show donors how renovations were progressing.

    Klasky-Gamer and her staff also recruited young online “influencers” and entertainers to be part of its new LA Family Housing Young Hollywood Action Committee. The goal was to bolster the organization’s social-media presence. Committee members such as the drag performer Honey Davenport, Instagram model Andy Lalwani, and actress Chrissie Fit helped the charity triple its followers on social media.

Tips & Tools

What We’re Reading

More than 15 states joined a settlement agreement with the Sackler family last week. The family made its fortune from pharmaceuticals, especially the opioid OxyContin. Now state attorneys general are trying to hold the family accountable for pursuing aggressive marketing tactics that kicked off the opioid crisis that still grips the country.

But the Sacklers’ reputation is complicated by the fact that they were darlings of philanthropy for decades. The new settlement agreement — which is expected to advance — seeks to fine the family for wrongdoing and sharply limit how it can engage with the philanthropic world. The states that signed onto the agreement will receive a total of $4.5 billion from the Sacklers over nine years to fund opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs and compensate people who were directly affected by Purdue’s bad practices.

While the settlement shields the Sacklers from accepting any responsibility for the opioid crisis, it does blunt family members’ ability to recover their reputations through philanthropy. Control of two foundations, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund for the Arts and Sciences, will be wrested from the family under the agreement. What’s more, the family’s giving cannot be honored with name recognition — such as a new Sackler art gallery — until it pays out the full $4.5 billion in the settlement and fully withdraws from the opioid business. (MarketWatch)


  • What does the Sackler settlement mean for fundraisers? Jay Frost weighs in with a Twitter thread of thoughtful questions to consider.
Jay Frost

Emily Haynes is a staff writer at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, where she covers nonprofit fundraising.