Friday, September 22, 2006

Salaries and big charities

[Rant] The last couple of days there’s been some buzz about the salaries of the presidents of some of the larger Christian organizations.  Mike Sense started it (he works for Campus Crusade and Common Grounds Online picked up the story as well.  The data comes from the Forbes 200 Largest Charities database from 2005.

What’s interesting is that low salaries are almost automatically seen as “better” than the higher ones.  Crusade’s Steve Douglass earns $57,466, which is ever so much better than Franklin Graham’s $368,115 from Samaritan’s purse.  At CGO the author has “highlighted those who make less that $100,000 as if a six digit income is inherently more laudably than a five digit one.  Come on.

I don’t have any earthly idea whether these are high or low salaries.  I don’t do these guys jobs.  I’ve never seen their contract or their job description.  I’m thankful that in the Christian & Missionary Alliance we have a salaries committee of godly people that determine Dr. Benedict’s salary.  Good for them and good for him.

My personal opinion, for what it’s worth is that these kind of comparisons only breed envy and help people be judgmental.  I don’t mean to point fingers at either Mr. Sense or the guy from CGO but come on guys.  If you think they’re paid too much say so.  Don’t just dangle the numbers in front of people and see what happens. [/rant]


roberta said...

Good point, chief. It's interesting to hear your spin, bc my typical reaction is disgust at at what i consider greed...rather than disappointment toward people who create division and undermine the ministry of others. While numbers do tend to get me riled up, i agree that posting peoples' salaries isnt' exactly a Matt. 18 method of confrontation.

Beth said...

Some good points, thanks for this post!

I'm sure most people earn their salaries and deserve every penny or probably far more.

The love of money is the root of all evil and is probably what motivates criticism of other people's money. Just because you have no money doesn't mean you are not trapped by the love of it. Many people who have a lot of money are not trapped at all.

Most likely some of those highly paid people give away more money than you or I will see this year.

Mike Sense said...

Jeff- Thanks for your criticism. It's taken in a good manner and will help me take more thought before putting something out there. I think I was guilty of not really providing a substantial answer in saying "yes, I think this person makes too much".

To be honest, I am not so sure I would be inclined to say that being that I do not know all the in's and out's of ones contract. However, regardless on whether or not they give it away, it is donated to the organization, not them (most likely). That was my point in that little section of my original post.

So Beth, while I understand your inclination to take a hands-off approach, I do not think it is wise. I also regret that you have implied that I have a "love for money" and am therefore lauching these pseudo-missles at unsuspecting brothers. Seems like you have accused me of sinning? I would hope that you would of taken the time to visit my website and read my post so you could get the full breadth of what I wrote. And also, these people are heads of major, non-profit, publically seen organizations...their salaries are public domain and rightly so. I am happy for the transparency in my organization as Jeff is with his.

And Roberta, I will graciously confront you by saying that what you wrote was incorrect by implying that I sinned by writing what I wrote. Nowhere in my post did I imply that these men were sinning nor their organization. Much like in discussions for church planting or missiology, the conversation isn't so much about who is sinning and not sinning by the methods they imploy, rather what is the wisest thing.

Also, as for this creating division? I guess a person could take that view and I would apologize for that, I really would. However, you seem to be advocating that I am undermining their ministry. I will go back to the fact that they are in the positions that they are and people have a right to question. It's a laissez-fair attitude in organizations that gives rise, sharp rise at times, to the possibility of mis-conduct. Having plurality of leadership and transparency in any organization is optimal.

Jeff said...

Mike, thanks very much for your thoughtful and tempered comment. I'm really glad we've had this conversation. I've thought quite a bit about it since it began and am glad to be a part of the conversation that is blogging.

Knowing both Roberta (reasonably well) and Beth (less well), I don't believe either meant to accuse you personally of the things mentioned. I think it's just an example of the weakness of the medium to communicate. That said, I'm glad we're communicating!