Do mission-driven organizations with tight budgets have any choice but to demand long, unpaid hours of their staffs?
“It is time to revisit the idea that working for the public good should somehow mean requiring the lowest-paid among us to support these efforts by working long hours, many of which are unpaid.”
Amen!!! Why am I doing what I’m doing, instead of historical and/or cultural history interpretation, or sustainable agriculture education? Because I can’t make a living doing those. 😦 People in general tend to value living history sites, parks and nature centers, and educational farms, often highly; but somehow that appreciation doesn’t seem to translate into enough dollars – grant-wise or otherwise – to support them.
Ironically, in 2014, the value of volunteer hours — generally in support of non-profit organizations — reached $23.70/hour. Yet it’s hard to find a paying position at such a site for even half that! Can someone explain to me, please, how we can value our volunteers (wonderful people, all, and absolutely vital to the organizations they support, don’t get me wrong!) more than twice as much as the people who actually work there for their livings? Or to put it another way, why do we value paid staff only half as much as volunteers?
Of course, it’s easy to say “you’re worth such-and-such” when you don’t actually have to pay the person that, and that’s the crux of the matter. If we as a culture really do value natural and cultural history interpretation, and related fields, then we need to figure out how to pay a living wage to those who provide it.