TikTokers who work in the nonprofit world are calling out the industry for its low salaries and worker exploitation

screenshots of a TikTok video showing a woman in glasses and grey shawl eating an ice cream cone under the text "non-profit boss buys you an ice cream"
TikToker @nicoleolived parodied lthe ow pay and negligible benefits of a nonprofit job.TikTok;@nicoleolived
  • Nonprofit workers are creating TikToks calling out the low pay they receive in non-profit roles.

  • Creators are criticizing the idea that intangibles like "leadership experience" make up for low pay.

  • Discussions about pay and salary transparency have racked up millions of views on the app.

TikTokers are using the platform to call out nonprofits for low pay and exploitation.

"Would you ever want to take on more of a leadership role — flex your skills?" said @nicoleolived in an August 22 parody of a nonprofit boss buying their employee an ice cream cone. "We don't have it in the budget to pay you for that, but I think just of the kind of opportunity."

"A long time ago, I made the decision to stay in nonprofits because I wanted to know that my work mattered," she continued in the video viewed almost 700,000 times. "And I see that with you ... you have that sense of soul, of heart that comes with this work."


Commenters were quick to joke about non-profit pay discrepancies and unpaid leadership opportunities framed as "professional development." Nonprofits, said one, expand "your position, but never your paycheck."

"Cute forced ice cream work meeting as the boss walks back to their $1.5 million brownstone," wrote one user. "I need a Jordan Peele film about nonprofit exploitation," commented another.

The hashtag #nonprofitindustrialcomplex, describing the relationship between industry and activism that some workers believe is detrimental to activism, has over 4 million views. Some nonprofit workers have used the hashtag to criticize social work agencies for hiring volunteer or part-time employees and expecting them to work as much as full-time hires. Other nonprofit workers have used the hashtag to share some of the anti-union sentiments they've heard while working at nonprofit orgs.

"We love unions. Unions are so important, a vital, profoundly relevant part of our community," @nicoleolived said in a parody of trying to start a union at a nonprofit, "But, I don't know that they're a fit here."

"A lot of people who work for nonprofits are good-intended people — people who want to help the community, people who are selfless," said @pseudo.nef, a TikToker who identified herself as a Hispanic-community health worker in a May 11 video cautioning others against pursuing nonprofit work. "... But, everyone who works for a nonprofit ends up becoming me — cynical as f---."

'The idea that people who do good work should be paid less because of the warm, fuzzy feelings they get from their work needs to die'

Fair pay continues to be a major concern in the non-profit sector. Nonprofit workers make $51,171 on average in the US, according to ZipRecruiter.

Jamyle Cannon, the founder of the Chicago nonprofit The Bloc, has described the industry as "trash." Cannon said in a February 28 TikTok that fair pay can make nonprofits more efficient. "The idea that people who do good work should be paid less because of the warm, fuzzy feelings they get from their work needs to die. My son cannot eat warm, fuzzy feelings. That is not a part of a compensation package."


"Working in the nonprofit field should not be a vow of poverty," he continued. "If we're going to solve the difficult problems of today we need to attract and retain talent. And an important part of getting that done is making sure they're paid fairly."

Discussion about pay and salary transparency continues to be a popular topic on TikTok, with hashtags such as #salarytransparency amassing 287.2 million views. The app, home to millions of Gen Z users stuck between fulfilling, values-driven roles and positions that pay enough to keep up with rising costs, has become a hotspot for accounts such as @salarytransparentstreet (847K followers) which poses the question "how much do you make?" to passersby.


@nicoleolived, @pseudo.nef, and Jamyle Cannon did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

If you have tips or stories about how the internet impacts our lives, email mleighton@insider.com.

Read the original article on Insider