Money isn’t ev­ery­thing

The not-for-profit sec­tor at­tracts peo­ple who wish to give some­thing back to the com­mu­nity, writ­ers Amy Byrne

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - CAREER ONE -

THEY are not jobs that will make you a mil­lion­aire and are un­likely to come with a fancy of­fice and plat­inum com­pany credit card, but the not-for-profit sec­tor is prov­ing in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive to jaded cor­po­rates and al­tru­is­tic Gen X and Y pro­fes­sion­als.

The group­ing known as the third sec­tor of the Aus­tralian econ­omy — af­ter private and pub­lic — is broad, in­cor­po­rat­ing char­i­ties and causedriven or­gan­i­sa­tions but also sport­ing and pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions, hos­pi­tals, aged-care op­er­a­tors, in­de­pen­dent schools, re­search in­sti­tutes and so­cial en­ter­prise’’ op­er­a­tions.

An Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics study on 1999/2000 fig­ures found there were al­most 600,000 peo­ple, or nearly 7 per cent of the na­tional work­force, em­ployed in 31,000 not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tions. An up­date in July is ex­pected to show that the sec­tor has grown even more.

Not-for-profit is a di­verse group­ing, and has strug­gled to at­tract top cor­po­rate tal­ent due to its lower pay scales, the per­cep­tion that it doesn’t of­fer the same op­por­tu­ni­ties for ca­reer es­ca­la­tion as the private sec­tor, and the dis­in­cen­tive of be­ing over­seen by well-in­ten­tioned but of­ten am­a­teur­ish vol­un­teer boards.

But not-for-profit boards are in­creas­ingly run along cor­po­rate gov­er­nance lines and busi­ness high-fliers, per­haps in­flu­enced by a Bill Gates or a Chris Cuffe, are start­ing to mi­grate across, look­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to, as fi­nance whiz Cuffe once put it, swap suc­cess for rel­e­vance’’.

Karen Mahlab, a busi­ness pub­lisher who also runs Pro Bono Aus­tralia, a com­pany that pro­vides not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions with ser­vices such as free on­line job list­ings and vol­un­teer match­ing, has no­ticed the shift.

Peo­ple are look­ing for job sat­is­fac­tion and to make a dif­fer­ence to the world. They want to be able to work in col­lab­o­ra­tive en­vi­ron­ment rather than one that is nec­es­sar­ily com­pet­i­tive all the time. And I think the not-for-profit sec­tor of­fers that,’’ she says.

Philip May­ers, a hu­man re­sources con­sul­tant with Sil­ver­man Dakin who spe­cialises in re­cruit­ing ex­ec­u­tives for the not-for-profit sec­tor, says younger gen­er­a­tions tend to be more val­ues­driven but there has been a marked in­crease in in­ter­est in the sec­tor from man­agers in their 40s and 50s who are re-eval­u­at­ing their lives.

They are peo­ple who are tired of mak­ing money for the boss to drive a new BMW and would rather see it go­ing into the com­mu­nity,’’ he says. They have proved them­selves in busi­ness, they have got rid of the mort­gage and the private school fees and they want to do some­thing that will add to the value of so­ci­ety.’’

Such peo­ple, how­ever, have to be pre­pared for a sub­stan­tial pay cut. The an­nual re­mu­ner­a­tion sur­vey by the not-for-profit sup­port group En­ter­prise Care found CEOs earned an av­er­age of about $145,000 last year and fi­nan­cial con­trollers $90,000, well short of the salaries on of­fer in the private sec­tor.

There are lu­cra­tive jobs in not-for-profit but even then, says May­ers, ex­ec­u­tives earn­ing $200,000 to $300,000 will typ­i­cally sac­ri­fice $100,000 to $200,000.

At the top end they are usu­ally down by about a third to a half,’’ he says. Even at the lower end of the pay scale they will still be earn­ing less, un­less they are on an award, like nurses and teach­ers. A sec­re­tary might get $40,000 in­stead of $45,000.’’

Not only will they be earn­ing less, but they will likely find that cross­ing over to the not-for-profit sec­tor is a one-way ca­reer path. Once you’ve worked in not-for-profit, the for-profit sec­tor seems to take a dim view of you,’’ May­ers says.

I’ve done close on 400 ex­ec­u­tive place­ments and I’m strug­gling to think of one of them who has gone back to private.’’

Nev­er­the­less, there are plenty of peo­ple pre­pared to take the plunge and Care Aus­tralia CEO Ju­lia New­ton-Howes says she is of­ten pleas­antly sur­prised at the cal­i­bre of job ap­pli­cants, given the sec­tor’s in­abil­ity to match cor­po­rate re­mu­ner­a­tion.

Our em­ploy­ees are not on the bread­line — we have to pay a rea­son­able level of re­mu­ner­a­tion to get good peo­ple — but we are not at­tract­ing peo­ple who are highly mo­ti­vated by money,’’ she says.

Care has about 90 Aus­tralian em­ploy­ees here and over­seas, and New­ton-Howes says an al­tru­is­tic at­ti­tude is ev­i­dent among front­line aid work­ers and of­fice staff alike.

Sim­i­larly, Green­peace hu­man re­sources co­or­di­na­tor Deb Henderson says ev­ery one of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s 100-odd em­ploy­ees, from ac­coun­tants and di­rect-mar­keters to ac­tivists on board anti-whal­ing ships, has a com­mit­ment to the en­vi­ron­ment. They see work­ing for Green­peace as a priv­i­lege,’’ she says.

Em­ploy­ees of char­i­ties can get salary tax breaks and many or­gan­i­sa­tions boast a good work­place cul­ture. Green­peace, for in­stance, has a 35-hour week, flexible hours, parental leave, work-from-home op­por­tu­ni­ties, ad­di­tional hol­i­days at Christ­mas and over­seas job swaps.

Ca­reer chang­ers may also find the sec­tor more amenable to peo­ple cross­ing dis­ci­plines. May­ers has placed a real es­tate agent in a univer­sity fundrais­ing job and a banker as a re­li­gious ad­min­is­tra­tor. There is the lure of power and pres­tige, too, in the sec­tor’s blue-rib­bon jobs, such as those head­ing up pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tions, re­search in­sti­tutes and top private schools.

If you are CEO of the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, you are mix­ing with top doc­tors, top pro­fes­sors, top peo­ple in gov­ern­ment,’’ May­ers says.

Pic­ture: David Ger­aghty

Higher mo­tive: Karen Mahlab says peo­ple want job sat­is­fac­tion and the power to make a dif­fer­ence to the world

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