Nonprofit Newswire | Compassion, a Living Wage, or Both?

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July 26, 2010; Source: Lansing State Journal | Yes, there is a great deal of compassion among today’s college graduates, driving some to look for internships and AmeriCorps stipended volunteer positions in the nonprofit sector.  There may actually be a “compassion boom” among young people.

But equally important is the still lousy economy, with unemployment likely to hover around 10 percent through 2011 and estimates of a post-recession unemployment rate in 2013 of 6.5 percent—still the high end of “normal” unemployment.  As the Lansing State Journal blithely noted, “Nonprofit work, though, is notoriously low-salaried.”

As a result, these compassion-motivated interns and AmeriCorps workers, like one young woman profiled in the article, discover that they can’t live on the low and lower levels of compensation they get in the nonprofit sector and have to find second jobs or “freelance work” to survive.  Compassion is a fine motivator, but decent, living wage salaries will help keep these millenials in the nonprofit sector on career paths if, and when, the private sector job market revives. –Rick Cohen