Spotlight on Meritocracy: Does Charity Need to Pay More for Top Talent?

By Michelle Kweder, Maureen Scully and Gerald Denis.

Recently, a TED Talk by Dan Pallotta set the blogosphere on fire, with a hopeful call for how non-profits can ramp up to a new level of operations and impact.  Many people were inspired that the non-profit sector was at last being seen for its worthiness and bigger potential.  But some people worried about what sounded like corporatizing the non-profit sector – in a world where corporatization has yielded many of the societal problems that non-profits are now left to mop up.

Weighing in on these concerns, we wrote a blog titled “Persistent Poverty in a Smug Meritocracy” that was posted by the Stanford Social Innovation Review.  It argues that faith in merit-based pay inequality is problematic – especially in the sector that aims to address inequality and the many societal ills it begets.  The blog posting was widely tweeted and has prompted a wide range of responses. Some strongly worded posts have sentiments from ‘thanks for putting into words my nagging worries’ to ‘you must be communists who just don’t get it.’  Many people posted thoughtful responses that pushed our own learning and show that the conversation isn’t over. Please read it – and add your voice!


One thought on “Spotlight on Meritocracy: Does Charity Need to Pay More for Top Talent?

  1. great piece, well worth clicking through!
    in universities, we see how huge salaries for the ‘top managers’ drains resources and demotivates the creative, productive underlings. Organizations can be run effectively without copying the corporate hierarchy and pay scale! The banking crisis shows us how empty the talk of ‘pay for talent’ really is. In many organizations I notice how more ‘senior’ folks get paid a lot more to do less real work, but perhaps engage in more ceremonial work as well as organizational politics.

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