NKF and Charity
Everyone has been buzzing about the NFK saga, and like most Singaporeans, I'm guilty of it too. I'm more worried about the fallout that charities are going to face though. Over lunch yesterday with Louis, we were discussing how we will be affected.
For one thing, we were about to reapply for IPC status for the third time direct to IRAS and right now, we think we should probably hold off. With people now questioning NKF's IPC status, they're probably going to be really stringent about giving out new applications.
With big charities, it's almost totally different from how a small charity like ours runs. I have never had a bonus since I joined CWS though I think I work pretty hard and I'd feel bad asking for one because I know the money could go towards the cats instead. I'm kind of shocked to see people in NKF getting huge bonuses for various things. Sure it isn't wrong legally - but the money could have been spent on the patients instead.
I am NOT saying that I don't think people in charities shouldn't be paid. Certainly rewards should be given for good work, but when I read how they're looking for a new CEO and are going to pay $19000, I think there may be a disconnect. It's not so much the quantum I quibble with because I wouldn't know how to remunerate people who run their facilities, but the fact that there is a sense that to get good people you have to pay a lot of money.
I for one totally advocate rewarding people for good work if they work in charities because people like me would stand to benefit. I also agree that charities could take a leaf from companies in learning how to run better - more transparency and better organisational structure.
Here's the thing though - a charity is NOT a company. A company's goal is to maximise profit, a charity's goal is to maximise WELFARE. To me, it's almost the difference between capitalism and socialism. If you get someone whose main goal is to profit personally (because of the huge salary), then you're going to get someone whose personal interests are not necessarily in alignment with those of the charity.
In the US, more people from corporate fields are retiring and then they go into a second career working in charities. They don't demand the same pay they did in their former high flying jobs - but they bring their expertise along with them. They're doing this because they're comfortable enough and their aim is no longer to make money.
I took a 40% pay cut to work with CWS. I still make nothing close compared to what I made at my first job and that was my starting pay. Do I miss the money? Sure but that's not why I joined CWS. If it was, then I would have stayed in my last job. Same with Louis from ACRES, and all the other welfare people like ASD or HRSS who run their groups on tight budgets, and work other jobs often to support the work they do.