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Working at a Nonprofit Shouldn’t Mean Bad Pay, Even for Interns

Why we’re making our compensation philosophy public.

Published September 8, 2021 | Updated September 8, 2021 | Paige Wilcoxson

Last year, I started as New Harvest’s first Chief Operating Officer (COO). I was thrilled to join an organization whose mission and values align with my own beliefs about how we should treat individuals, other animals, and our planet. 

The thing is — too often mission-driven companies don’t live up to their values internally. Nonprofits, especially, can fall into a trap of relying on an army of unpaid interns, volunteers, and underpaid and overworked employees.  

I’ve spent the last several months working to develop a compensation philosophy that is true to New Harvest’s values of integrity, informed optimism, and inclusive expertise. My hope is that by making it public, New Harvest can encourage other organizations that share our values to adopt similar policies. 

The impact of an organization is directly tied to the team who are doing the work at the organization. 

Just because we are a nonprofit does not mean that our employees or their families should sacrifice financial security. Nonprofits must invest resources in their staff, even their interns. New Harvest can’t fulfill our mission of maximizing the positive impact of cell ag by minimizing our overhead (Brandt, 2013). 

That’s why we have implemented the following policies, as part of our larger compensation philosophy:

  • Wage ratio of no more than 2.5:1, meaning that executives are paid no more than two and a half times the average employee’s salary. The highest salary is $162,803. The average non-executive salary is $78,937.50.
  • $16.54 living wage for interns, as determined by MIT’s living wage calculator. This is more than double the minimum wage federally and in many states.
  • Annual cost of living salary increases tied to the Consumer Price Index of the country in which an employee is based. Employees can earn an additional 5 percent increase a year based on their performance and demonstration of New Harvest’s values.
The above is just a snapshot of the full compensation philosophy, which you can read here. Like everything at New Harvest, it is a work in progress. I welcome feedback (you can reach me at paige@new-harvest.org) and sincerely hope it can be a useful resource for others in cell ag and beyond.

 


About the Authors
Paige Wilcoxson is Chief Operating Officer at New Harvest.