Ultimately what this comes down to is belief in you mission. It is possible to see work at a nonprofit as just another job, and to justify that you don’t give because you may already be working at below market rates to be able to work at a nonprofit. The key thing here is optics. As someone who works at a nonprofit, you can be visible in your community – both the place you live or work and the people you serve. Your work can be taken for granted, especially if you are not in a direct service role.
What is needed from staff is buy in to the agency and the mission. This means that you don’t just work there because it is just a job, but you accept that you will face below market rates and you still give both your time and money to the cause whenever they need arises.
I was thinking of this as a potential board member when I was reading as well, and the same applies. There are many reasons to work on a nonprofit board, but ultimately you are serving the cause the nonprofit serves as well. You have to give not just your time but your money as well.
Why do we have to do this as both workers and board members? Outside people look and see what the people closest are doing. If you’re going to ask someone for money or time and they will receive no extrinsic reward, you have to model that for potential donors and volunteers.
It’s pretty simple but easy to lose track of. If I worked for a Ford Manufacturing plant, I’d buy a Ford.