Skip to content

When will we reap what we sow?

August 26, 2013
by Melanie Cheng

I wrote this in 2011, but am posting it here after being inspired by Antoine Moore’s comments to “How to become a Change Maker?  Can you be transparent & co-creative AND make money?

No, but really…

I’ve been a part of the extended “Next Edge” community for over a year, and something is seriously wrong when this incredible pool of hyper-intelligent, accomplished, generous individuals are typically making much, much less than they did or could in the corporate world.

It makes perfect sense that the prevalent single-bottom-line society would pay well since it’s all about the money, but c’mon.

There are undoubtedly many reasons for this trend fact that most do-gooders are poor, but these come to mind right now:

  • The industry of “change-making” (read: improving the world vs destroying it) is undercapitalized.  The End.  Ok, there’s more…
  • People who voluntarily leave the high-paying corporate world to “do good work” are obviously not as driven by money and therefore don’t demand equivalent pay.
  • Many of us who’ve been in the space for a while are traumatized by difficult fundraising experiences, and therefore undersell ourselves to just close the deal.  “Hey! For the bargain price of $89,999, our team of six will work full-time for a year!”
  • The community of change-sector consultants and workers are a kind of extended group of friends who are tight-knit, friendly, and typically spiritually and/or emotionally and/or psychologically aware.   This is not an easy environment to demand ask each other nicely for more money, even if we know we’re worth it.
  • Foundations, impact investors and individuals don’t have systems or metrics to analyze change-sector funding opportunities and their impact.  Thus, they resort to “blind” charity-vibed contributions (regardless of whether they are literally charity donations or patient capital donations investments).  Thus, the “change-making industry” is [sub-]consciously viewed as one big monster charity initiative instead of a lucrative business opportunity.  Sure, there likely won’t be a major exit like a venture capital investment, but there is still money to be made doing good.  Thus, founders and execs often make less because they’re seen as quasi-social workers who notoriously have made and sadly may continue to make peanuts.

I’m sure there are other insightful reasons why too.  These are at the top of my head from reading and meetings lately.  David Hodgson et al’s plans for “Project X” may help remedy this – at least for consultants.  It’s a great idea, and I hope they succeed for all of our sake.

Note: David’s “Project X” changed models and is now more of a cross-organizational think tank.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *