Salary Negotiation for Earning to Give

by mulholio1 min read3rd Apr 201928 comments


Personal DevelopmentEarning to Give

I recently accepted a new software engineering role for which I negotiated a higher salary. I plan on donating much of the increase I negotiated and this made me wonder if a scheme could be set up which offers salary negotiation services in exchange for a pledge to donate some or all of the extra salary to charity.

There seems little to no information on salary negotiation in an earning-to-give context (see for an exception).

This scheme would have a very low cost with back-of-the-envelope calculations roughly as follows:

  • Cost - The only cost for this would be the time of the career coaches. If these coaches are professional (which I suspect would not be the best path), the cost seems to be $130 or so an hour (all that should be needed). This could be reduced with pro-bono work or by volunteering from non-professional coaches (such as previous scheme participants, other EAs in similar roles)
  • Benefit - This would need more data to back up, but increases of 10-20% seem feasible. In engineering salaries, this boost could be in the region of $5,000 - $40,000 depending on seniority and location. This benefit would also be compounding, affecting future salaries and income for every year to come (although this may not all end up in donations).

Assuming an average boost of $5000, half of which is donated, this gives us an estimated 1:25 cost-benefit ratio, excluding compounding benefits.

It might also make more sense to provide lower cost materials such as pointers to blog posts, podcasts and books as this might have similar benefits with near zero cost. This might be the best place to start before evaluating the scheme to see if it is worth expanding.

Other things to consider would be how well this translates outside of engineering roles. My strategy worked partly because my role is in high demand in the current market. Other professions might not be as suited to negotiation. However, even if this only suits engineering, this could still prove a useful scheme given how many EA engineers there are.

I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on how they think this scheme would work best. Some questions I have:

  • How complex should the scheme be? At the simplest end, a webpage of resources with a feedback survey could work. A more involved approach would involve coordinating/hiring coaches.
  • How well does this work across sectors/roles? How does the advice need to be tailored differently for different people?
  • Could this have any negative effects? e.g. An aggressive negotiation could result in a retracted offer (unlikely, but conceivable)
  • How many (qualified) people would be willing to volunteer some time to offer coaching?
  • How would you ensure people stick to their promise to donate and don't just use the advice/time for non-earning-to-give causes.