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Are You Uncharitable When it Comes to Social Media?

Tattered yellow charity ribbon from book cover of Dan Pallotta's Uncharitable: Are you uncharitable when it comes to social media?If you’re in the social benefit sector, you’ve undoubtedly heard about or watched Dan Pallotta’s recent Ted Talk.

Many folks have applauded the talk, agreeing that if we want charities to be successful we have to value nonprofit work.

Yet every time I check my email inbox I find another organization looking for unpaid social media work on Idealist, YNPN, or Progressive Exchange.

So let me get this straight – we want the outside world to value the work of nonprofits and nonprofit professionals but those same nonprofits don’t want to pay nonprofit professionals?

How can organizations that hope to eliminate poverty, hunger, homelessness, health disparities, etc. reconcile propping up systems that perpetuate these very problems?

I get it, you’re budget is strapped. But have you ever given thought to the personal budget of the nonprofit professional you expect to work for free?

I’ve had friends desperate for work interview with well-known and regarded nonprofits that won’t even cough up money to pay for their transit passes should they get hired. They are then forced to decline the position and continue to search for employment that will at a minimum cover their commute. Meanwhile their personal bank accounts shrink with every trip to interview for a social media internship or volunteer position that is unlikely to turn into paid work.

Not that we wouldn’t do what we do for free. Like many of my colleagues, I love working in the nonprofit sector and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. And I do good work that I am proud of. Heck, if I were fabulously wealthy, I would do it for free.

But I’m not wealthy. I have rent, student loans, health insurance, and grocery expenses to shoulder. If I ceased to be paid for work, I would be in trouble. I come from a working-class immigrant family – my dad, nearing 70, still works in a warehouse. So the option of relying on family money to keep me afloat does not exist. In short, I rely on paid social media work, as many others do, for their livelihood.

If you value what social media and technology can do for your organization and you agree with the central premise of Pallotta’s talk, perhaps you and your organization will considering honoring the work experienced nonprofit professionals.

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