Compensation for nonprofit board members

ESG activists like myself have long pushed for improvement in leadership of nonprofit organizations. For reasons expounded by authors elsewhere and not retreated in this blog post, we recognize that one way to move toward this goal is to diversify the makeup of nonprofit boards. Nonprofit boards tend to be made up of upper middle class or higher people with a full time salary income. The primary obstacle to recruiting talent to achieve diversity on nonprofit boards is an antiquated belief that nonprofit board members should serve without compensation.

I recently had the opportunity reposed to a fellow board member who has served without compensation and did not support compensation for board members:

“It’s wonderful that you can offer your time without compensation. Congratulations for your economic success and thank you for choosing to serve your nonprofits without compensation. Realize that you are in the minority. Most Americans can not afford to work without compensation. Most people live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, and need to maximize compensation for every hour of their labor. Those who are excluded from serving their community nonprofit organizations without compensation include most women and most minorities, those with lower levels of formal education and those without full time salaried employment. It is unethical, elitist and anti-social to refuse to compensate people in the working class for their labor serving on non-profit boards. Those of us who focus our efforts on ESG progressive reforms are committed to seeing responsible nonprofit boards disavow the position you propose.”