Don’t eat the fish. It smells.

Pic: Flickr user, judygr

Inspired by a Telegraph journalist who knows who she is and has paid for her sins (no really) – oh and readers of the Daily Mail – I just thought I’d address this pesky recurring question about charity workers getting erm a salary. Whilst there are clearly some serious internal questions that charities can ask themselves (e.g. are there ways they can partner or cross-collaborate to have more impact on the users of services), to argue that charity sector workers should by default get paid peanuts (or simply ‘volunteer’) is provovative at best and naive at worst.

As most of us now realise (my Grandma permitting…no I take that back, even my grandma gets it), to have a scaleable and sustainable impact on service users charities have to have an infrastructure, be able to forecast their income, and attract skilled and innovative staff. And I’m afraid this last little point does require paying a reasonable and competitive salary – especially if the staff live in, oh I don’t know, say 2011.

The alternative is hiring staff that are either incredibly independently wealthy, or retired. Nowt wrong with these two demographics per se but I don’t think we can rely on them to run all of this country’s non-profits on their own. And organisational diversity is a cool thing, folks.

I’veĀ previously argued charities need to work smarter and diversify income, but the charity worker salary argument is a complete red herring and stops us having a more intelligent debate about delivering the best services and plugging holes in the public sector – in the context of a shrinking state and a tightening public purse. #salariesnotsushi

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