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Know your worth — the most common phrase heard when discussing pay rate at your organization. As the focus on essential workers and prioritizing mental health rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the true value of one’s skills and time skyrocketed. 

This awareness brought about a well-deserved conversation on what a worker is really worth, sparking a mass movement for a higher minimum wage and increased salaries. While this conversation has become commonplace between workers and their friends and colleagues, some organizational leaders hesitate to release helpful information or spark discussion on the topic of wages. 

That’s where taxes come in.

As association professionals know, many purpose-driven organizations are tax exempt. Due to this status, non-profit organizations and associations must complete an IRS 990 Form detailing activities, governance, staff size, revenue and more information on the organization. The IRS then releases these forms to the general public, allowing anyone to use the association's 990 form to ask for a raise.

Related: Why you should tell your friends how much you make Learn More >

Why Are Taxes Relevant to Getting A Raise?

Association professionals seeking a raise in compensation have the unique opportunity to dive into these tax forms to understand the financial standing of the organization and even see the salaries of their colleagues and team leaders.

In fact, part VII of the IRS 990 Form — titled Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees and Independent Contractors — explicitly lists officers, trustees and key staffers’ salaries by name.

Because nonprofits are required to file their 990 Forms each year, you could even calculate the percentage of compensation growth over time — a useful figure for gauging the average rate of pay and frequency of wage increases during your own salary negotiation.

Utilizing this information will be extremely helpful for determining the logistics of and then executing a salary negotiation.

Where Do You Find an Organization’s 990 Form?

One of the easiest ways to find an organization’s 990 Form is to use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search. By entering either your organization’s name or employer identification number into the search bar you can find reported 990 forms from previous years. 

Another proven resource for finding IRS 990 Forms is ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer which allows the user to search for any tax-exempt organization by name, location, category or organization type. 

Both of these resources are free to use and can quickly provide valuable information to anyone interested in finding out more about the financial status of certain nonprofit organizations. By utilizing one or both of these sources in preparation for salary negotiations, you have the ability to walk into a meeting with the hard facts needed to ask for a raise.

How to Start The Conversation

Once you’ve gathered the information needed to properly negotiate a salary increase, it can be hard not to rush into the discussion. Be cognizant of the timing of your request because broaching the topic of a raise at an inopportune time can negatively impact the desired results. 

If your organization typically adjusts salaries and titles at a certain point in the fiscal year that would be the perfect time to discuss raising your wage. On the flip side, if your organization is hosting an important conference with the entire leadership team distracted and stressed, it’s likely not a great time to discuss a raise.

Once you’ve picked the appropriate time and are ready to start negotiations, come prepared with instances of exemplary work on projects, examples of invaluable assistance to the company and any areas that are dependent on your time and effort to further prove your value to your organization. 

Now that you know when and what to say, approach your team lead or board liaison to request a meeting. By using the information you gathered on your organization and the industry through IRS 990 Forms and by highlighting your areas of expertise and value, you can explicitly understand where your value lies within your organization and have a tangible idea as to your worth — giving you a solid game plan for negotiating.

Ashley Neal
Post by Ashley Neal
October 8, 2021
Ashley is a marketing and communications professional with expertise in sales conversion, copywriting, and social media.