The Executive Payroll

greedyLes Twentyman is an Australian. He is a youth worker that advocates hard for homeless youth. He knows about charity so when he comments people listen. Twentyman most recently made some disparaging comments about CEOs that work for charities. Many he said are overpaid. Says Twentyman, “.. “Money is being shovelled out the wrong end.” Among other things Twentyman has called on Governments to look at the books of charities and withdraw funding for charities who are paying their CEOs over $150 000 a year.  http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/charity-bosses-overpaid-youth-worker-20090126-7pup.html

Twentyman is a controversial figure. He points out that working in a community services organisation is not, “…. a career path for making lots of money.”  Having worked in the community sector for two decades I can testify to that. I can also testify that the workers that do the SERVICE work of the organisation, those that deal with the issues at ground level, are the lowest paid by the proverbial mile. Last year I spoke with a deaf worker that worked in the employment sector finding jobs for Deaf and hard of hearing people. I was shocked that last year was the first time they had earned over   $40 000 a year. The person had been working in the sector for over five years.

More recently a well known charity advertised for a Deputy CEO.  Rumours around the traps, that I can not confirm, are that the deputy CEO salary was in the range of $150 000 per year. If true one wonders what the organisation must be paying the CEO. It’s kind of obscene when workers at the grass roots are still being paid, in some cases, just over $40 000 to do the key work that an organisation was established for in the first place. More offensively it is this work that the organisations promote to get money from the gullible public only for the bulk of it to be paid to overpaid executives.

Some years ago I received the newsletter of an organisation. The newsletter, to save money, was printed on scrap paper. I came home from work one day to a rather bemused wife. She asked me if I had read the newsletter to which I replied I had not. She showed it to me and I was horrified to see on the back of one page there was a letter to  a successful applicant for a fundraising position. The newsletter had been printed on scrap paper and some careless worker, probably the CEO, had failed to dispose of this confidential letter. Somehow, I do not know how, this letter became part of the newsletter. Unchecked the newsletter went out to the members. Of course before it went out it should have been vetted, probably by the CEO, to ensure all was above board. But such a high paid worker couldn’t bother themselves with such a mundane task.

So what happened was the organisation members that received the newsletter read about an employment offer to the new fundraising manager. We saw the mans name, his address and also his salary range. The fundraising managers salary was a six figure salary. Again an obscene amount when grassroots workers of an organisation get paid a pittance. It was quite comical to witness the organisation frantically contacting members to ask them to send the newsletter back. Amazingly the CEO refused to accept blame, instead shifting blame to the workers that had assembled the newsletter.

Les Twentyman is not far off the mark. Our charity organisations, including those in the Deaf sector are top heavy in management. These managers receive very healthy salaries while the nuts and bolts workers get paid next to nothing. These organisations promote the great work of these nuts and bolts workers in an effort to get the public to donate money to the organisation. But where does the bulk of this money go? If  Les Twentyman is to be believed,  if the salary of the deputy CEO at $150 000 a year is correct and the fact that the aforementioned fundraising manager was on a six figure salary – it is clear that the bulk of fundraising money that should be directed to services is being gobbled by management. It’s obscene and we the public and receivers of the service should hold these people accountable.

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4 thoughts on “The Executive Payroll

  1. You need not worry about those sorts of salaries here! Our limited government funding (which was indexed at, from memory, 0.78% last year – woo hoo!) does not allow for exorbitant, or even realistic salaries. Amazing what you can get done on a very limited budget – thanks to the efforts of committed and hard working staff, who would earn much more elsewhere. Like about double what they get here. Or maybe more than double if they went into the public service.

  2. You make it difficult to respond when you write posts with comments turned off, and no other means of contact.

    As the lone voice you mentioned in the Cora Barclay redux post, I’m not quite what you are portraying. I don’t have to be brave in expressing the opposing opinion as I don’t have anything at stake.

    I do know all of you in person, from brief meetings here and there. However I’m not going against a group opinion as I’m posting from an outside perspective.

    As far as CEO salaries go, $150k is quite modest. That is only about 4 low paid workers, and the CEO needs to be more effective than 4 people.

  3. I don’t turn the comments off Steve … I have often tried to turn them back on with no luck. If anyone knows why they turn off and how to turn them on please tell. But apologies, I realise it must be frustrating.

    As for being brave .. Not in a gung ho sense .. More in a strong I have principles sense. I admire people that have the fortitude to speak out against the tide of opinion.

    As for the salaries. In community services 150 grand is huge. Equivalent to three or four workers providing direct service, 10 families getting in home language support, two years of interpreting at work for 20 people. Might not be big ina corporate sector but in this one .. Huge. Especially when the organisations cry poor to providing services.

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