I read today that Jeffrey Raikes, new CEO of the Gates Foundation, offered to work for free, as Patty Stonesifer did before him, but the founders did not want to set a precedent. Raikes, like Stonesifer, is a Microsoft millionaire with a second career in philanthropy. The noteworthy element is the level at which Raikes pay was set – $990,000. This apparently is what Bill and Melinda Gates think is a reasonable salary to attract future CEOs. I’ll say!
While this is taking place, virtually every nonprofit leader in America is either taking a pay cut or contemplating one, laying people off or contemplating the need to do so, and looking under the mat for spare change in an effort to keep essential services flowing. I don’t begrudge foundations paying their CEOs lots of money, even if the job cannot be anywhere near as hard as running a soup kitchen. What I do resent is the clamor every time a nonprofit leader asks for a raise or, after a lifetime of service, breaks six figures. No one goes into the nonprofit field for the money, but people do have to live.