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These are well though out comments I have to agree with. When I completed my MBA (not at Harvard) I spoke to the CEO at the non profit for which I was happily employed. He recognized my region had the lowest turnover, had decreased overtime and worker's comp, and received the highest client satisfcation scores. When I talked about a new salary, he told me, "to make good money, you're going to have to go private sector." Within one month I had tripled my current salary and doubled the request I had made to the non profit CEO. I still miss the job and the good work I did and have yet to be able to marry charitable work with money.

The comparison to a $5 mm a year sports figure, to someone running an important nonprofit organization, can also be made to other very important, yet underpaid, jobs. Teachers are responsible for the education of our children to be the next generation workforce and leaders but teachers are horribly underpaid for that responsibility. The same is true of fireman, EMT's, paramedics and policemen. We complain loudly if our property taxes are raised $300 a year to pay these important positions a better salary yet don't think twice about paying the same $300 for a sporting event or concert tickets.

In the US and around the world, we reward celebrity with enormous salaries and pay a pittance, in comparison, to more socially important positions. The only way to change it is with the marketing machine. In other words, "Why we need to pay the heads of charities $X". The marketing machine is what gets us to pay top dollar for sporting events and entertainment events. We need to use the same marketing tactics for nonprofits.

Pay should be based on performance, not just an artificial limit of a % of donations/contributions/endowments raised, as should the pay for the leaders of corporate America. In defense of athletes and entertainers, their pay is oftentimes tied to performance, as ridiculous as that pay maybe. This is the only way that nonprofits will be able to compete for the best talent.

Ironic, that you reference professional sports as an example of excess. This article from last year shows how it's all relative. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/sports/football/12nfltax.html?_r=4&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin talks about how the poor NFL top staffers earn peanuts compared to private sector attorneys. My heart bleeds for them (not). Maybe they'd fare better if they received tips from their grossly overpaid players.

How do we change it? I have been outraged by the inequity for decades, and teachers have been my favorite example. Are we, as a country, really saying that we value grocery checkers and pro sports players more than teachers?

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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