recruiter wants to prep my references, my employer is trying to guilt me into working for free, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My employer is trying to guilt me into volunteering extra hours for free

I graduated last May and am working my first job in my field as a social media person for a nonprofit. I am paid hourly as a non-exempt, part-time employee. No benefits and low hourly wage as funds are tight, but between a second part-time job and some help from my parents in rent subsidy and their health care, I’m doing all right.

I love my job and am getting great experience and meeting so many people, but my boss and her boss are getting irritated with me. They sat me down in my first review and challenged my dedication to the cause. They said people who are successful put in MINIMUM 30-plus hours per week. They also respond 24-7 to calls and emails so that their colleagues can proceed and the mission moves forward. (To be clear, they would not be paying me for any hours over 20 a week).

I said I was trying to keep up, but that this is a 20-hour per week job and I just can’t survive because I need the second job to live, so I need more hours paid from this one if I’m going to drop the other one. (My other boss gets mad when he catches me doing this work during slow times at that job.) I thought that would help, but they said I have to suck it up these years if I want to make it. They then told me that others in my position have gone to food banks or dinners for the poor so they could cut down on their food bills. By living as our clients do, they don’t put themselves in the position of getting a second job that stops them from putting in the time you need to succeed. They also asked how I could show such selfishness when a dollar to me is necessarily taken away from those we serve. I assured them I didn’t mean to be selfish. They said they understood but that others might take it the wrong way.

They each said before they met their eventual partners they put in their dues. One’s is a partner in a law firm and the other owns a couple of very successful restaurants and nightclubs, by the way.

I understand hard work, and it’s nothing my friends who just started in law firms or in teaching aren’t doing. But they’re in salaried positions and get benefits. I can’t even get official hours added to my pay because fundraising is flat, and higher overhead will hurt our Charity Navigator score. Can you help me think through some solutions, or at least figure how long I need to live like this? 

You don’t want to work for this organization. They’re badgering you to do something unreasonable and illegal. Employees can’t “volunteer” their hours for free to their employer, even at nonprofits. Plus, suggesting that you rely on food banks to get by? Calling you selfish for wanting to make a living wage? That’s an outrage. This is not normal at a nonprofit; this is something really messed up about this particular organization and the people running it.

Get out get out get out.

2. Recruiter wants to prep my references

The recruiter I’m working with for a position requested that they speak to all of my references to “prep” them before handing over my list of references to the employer for them to call. Is this normal?

As some background, the recruiter has scheduled a “prep” meeting with me before every step of the interview process. So, I had a 1-hour prep meeting before my 1-hour phone interview with the hiring manager, then another 30-minute prep meeting before a 40-minute phone interview with the VP. Even though I think the prep meetings are overkill and I feel like I’m being treated little bit like a child by the recruiter, I’m willing to put up with it since I think the role is a great fit for me, is a nice pay bump, and has a distinct advancement path.

But I think it’s asking a lot of my references to have them be coached/prepped by a recruiter first. If this is not a normal thing, how do I politely tell the recruiter this without ruining my chances at the position?

No, it’s not normal. I’d say this: “My references are busy and I’m not comfortable asking them to take the additional time for a prep call. These are people who I need to be able to call on in the future too, and I don’t want to use up too much of their time now. I know they’re happy to be references for me, but I don’t think they’d be thrilled to be asked to spend time prepping for it. And really, I feel like the employer and I are best served by them being candid with reference checkers.”

Frankly, there’s such a thing as too much prep for you too — you want to get a job where you’re a natural fit, after all, so that the chances of you excelling in it and being happy there are high. That recruiter isn’t going to be prepping you once you’re on the job, so both you and the employer are far better off knowing how you do without all that prep.

3. I don’t want to be listed on my company’s website because of past stalking

I grew up in a pretty messed-up household full of abuse. Now as an adult earning my own way, I have gone No Contact with family for my safety and sanity. These “people” have tried to kill me, abused me in every way possible, sabotaged past employment and education opportunities, and stalked me. I live my life like a hermit now to stay off the grid. That means they do not know where I live or work.

Well, I just recently found out that my job posted all staff’s names publically online, as they say it’s policy to do so. So if my abusive and psychotic family members decided they wanted to ruin everything for me again, all they would have to do if google my name and see my job’s location, company address, and my professional email. How do I go about addressing the issue while staying professional and not indulging too much personal information, as I don’t want anyone in my business? It’s an office and office gossip is a thing everywhere. I feel as though my safety has been compromised and I feel like I need to walk looking over my shoulder. What is the best way to solve this?

It’s pretty common to post staff listings online. For most people, it doesn’t cause any problems. But for some people — like you — it does, and in those cases reasonable employers will remove your info. I’d say this: “I had a situation in the past where I was stalk and harassed and have had to be careful not to list anything identifying my whereabouts online for safety reasons. I can’t have anything identifying where I live or work online. Can we exclude my name from the staff listing online?”

4. Checking in with my staff on my day off

I am a new manager for a retail company. What are your thoughts on me checking in on my day off to see if everything is running smoothly and what the sales are for the day?

It depends on the needs of the work. Does it go smoothly without you there? Do they know what types of emergencies you’d want to be contacted about? Is there some reason that you need to know the sales numbers that day and it can’t wait until tomorrow?

In general, the default should be that your days off is actual days off, unless there’s some real reason that they truly can’t be. That’s better for you, it sets a healthier example for your staff, and it allows people to learn to function in your absence (which you need unless you want to be tied to your work every day forever until you leave).

5. What to say in an email to a contact in the company where I’ll be interning

I’m a grad student and interning at my dream job this summer. I met someone at a work event last year at the same agency in a related department and would like to send an email re-introducing myself and letting him know I am looking forward to my internship this summer. I still have his card but am struggling to write an email that is not overly-friendly. I don’t have a specific ask, such as showing me around or taking me to coffee, since I imagine someone else will do that, but I would really like to say something since I need to work on developing my professional network.

“Hey Bob! We met at the Teapots Dinner last August, and you were incredibly helpful talking to me about spout design. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I’m going to be interning in Teapots Inc.’s communications department this summer, starting on May 20. I hope to get to reconnect while I’m there — I’d love to learn more about what you’re working on these days.”

{ 434 comments… read them below }

  1. SoBurnedOut*

    OP #1 get out get out get out get out get out!!! I’m 2 years out of college and recently left a job that was demanding some similar things of me. Unlike you, I didn’t stand up for myself and let it erode my sanity and well being. I’m out and working at DQ right now while I look for a new full time job. It’s hard, but it’s entirely worth it– don’t work for people like that.

    1. Artemesia*

      This is the kind of talk that Wallstreeters get — my nephew was working 80 hours a week at least — he was also getting paid 6 figures as a newbie.

      Yes, get out. The worst of it is expecting their employees to take welfare as well as donate their labor. Grotesque.

      1. Hooligan*

        Well… but at least the finance kids know what they’re getting into and make buck. The LW is struggling to survive, and is not being compensated for the level of commitment the organization is asking for.

        1. Natalie*

          Plus, the finance kids will (theoretically) get rich doing it. Hopefully no one’s getting rich off of a nonprofit.

          1. LL*

            People who work for nonprofits are still professionals that deserve to make good money. Just because they work on behalf of causes, does NOT mean that they shouldn’t be getting rich doing it!!!

            1. Natalie*

              I’m certainly not suggest NFP employees don’t deserve to be well paid. But it’s pretty uncommon to make enough to actually be rich (by US standards) at an NFP, with the exception of some CEOs of larger organizations or people who brought their money with them. Compared to Wall Street people, in particular.

        2. INTP*

          They know what they’re getting into and they make enough money to help their lives run smoothly when they’re at work all the time. It’s easier to work long hours when you can afford an apartment near work, in a building with a gym and other amenities, and a housekeeper, and healthy takeout or convenience foods. Or a stay at home spouse that does everything for you, like most of my high achieving superiors in the past. Not so easy to work 12 hours when you then have to live far from work, cook from scratch because prechopped veggies are too expensive, let alone healthy prepared meals, and do your laundry at a laundromat.

      2. RVA Cat*

        Yes. We find it offensive when the likes of Walmart tell employees how to get on food stamps. The fact this is a charity doesn’t make it any less wrong. Honestly, the level of devotion and sacrifice they are expecting is more akin to a cult* than an employer. Get out now!

        (The phrase “don’t drink the Kool Aid” is less a cliche and more a literal warning in this case!)

      3. Kyrielle*

        Also, when they talk about it being money taken from their clients if the LW doesn’t work extra…what do they think taking from welfare/food banks does? Yes, the LW would then need it…but still, they can (and are) earning enough to avoid needing it, which leaves that service more available for others who are not doing so….

        Argh. The words ‘irrational’ and ‘illegal’ cover most of it, I think. Get out, indeed. Get out.

      4. Graciosa*

        What gets me is that they don’t hold themselves to the standards to which they expect to hold the OP.

        They have partners who make good money – but apparently aren’t spending it to support the charity so that the charity could afford to pay for more work hours.

        Don’t they understand that every dollar they spend elsewhere is taken away from those that the charity serves?

        1. Noelle*

          I worked for a non-profit like this. I basically ran a third of the organization for $30K a year (in DC), while my bosses did nothing and made upwards of $180K. They really lose touch with reality (if they ever had it) and don’t understand how miserable it is for the people making less than a quarter what they are. They were always telling me I should take a month off and backpack through Europe, or go on vacation to Australia, or go to the opera/new expensive restaurant/winery, etc. Um, you can’t afford to do ANY of that on $30K a year. I am really glad I no longer work for those people.

        2. TK*

          Apparently part of their advice was to find a partner who makes more money than you do, so you can do what you love while they provide the major financial support. While that certainly is a legitimate financial strategy for some people, it’s really disturbing to recommend this to your employees. Not a level of involvement in your financial decision-making your employers should want to have.

          1. Danielle*

            What. The. Actual. Eff.

            “We’re not going to pay you enough. You should just marry up.”

            Was Don Draper the CEO of this non-profit?!?!?

        3. I'm a Little Teapot*

          That’s exactly what I was thinking. The naked hypocrisy is appalling.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Flee screaming into the night.

      It is in NO way selfish to expect to be able to live and eat on your salary, and it is ridiculous to be expected to work for free, especially in a part-time, hourly job. They are scamming you. Run. Yes, you. No, now.

      1. Ama*

        Yes. Fundraising is flat/down across the non-profit sector (I know my org’s is still not even close to the levels it was at prior to 2008) — a good organization will find other ways to trim overhead that don’t involve guilting their employees into working for free.

    3. Fantasma*

      I used to have a job sort of like LW1’s — not to that extreme, but there was definitely pressure to pay my dues as others had done. I trimmed my workload down so I could complete everything in 40 hours but I had a co-worker who regularly worked an extra 10-20 hours he was told he couldn’t put in for. While it was totally illegal, he felt he had no choice to keep his job. (We both did the work of 2 people each because people who left weren’t replaced, and the local job market was terrible at the time.)

      LW1: I work in social media now and hope you find a new job soon. There’s now greater demand for people with experience (including remote work, if you don’t see a lot of options in your city). Good luck!

      1. LizNYC*

        +1 yes to the remote work! I’m sure you’re already searching for “community manager” and similar terms. But get away from this place. Put in your 20 (paid) hours a week. When asked (or required) to work more, search here for Alison’s advice on wording to supervisors not violating labor laws.

        What’s more, if their Charity Navigator score will go down from giving 1 person an extra 10 hours a week in part-time pay, then they have WAY more problems. There has to be significant waste elsewhere.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          User Florida really taught me a lot about evaluating charities in the April 18-19 free-for-all thread. Link in a response, but for now you can search/browse for it. :)

    4. dang*

      These people are deranged. I can’t even form a coherent sentence on why but it’s all very obvious to both you and anyone who would read this. The guilt tripping and suggesting you are selfish for being a living wage..Just wow.

      And another wtf is, if there are enough slow periods that you have nothing to do and are doing other work, shy do they want you working extra anyway? Not that it makes a difference at all. But jeez.

      Get out. There people are unreasonable at best, damaging at worst.

      1. Madstuart*

        I read that as LW1’s other boss gets upset when LW1 does work for job 1 during slow periods in job 2.

    5. majigail*

      If they can’t afford you for the time they need you, they can’t afford you. Period. It really bugs me when employers suggest employees live off of charity and it makes me even madder when it comes from a nonprofit. You’re not taking those dollars away from your clients, you’re taking them away from the food bank’s clients! I can’t even imagine having the balls to have this talk with an employee.

    6. Michelle*

      Op #1- I haven’t even read the rest the of the questions, I had to immediately say I agree with everyone who is saying to run from this organization. What they are suggesting you do is completely ludicrous and illegal. I work for a nonprofit and our part-time employees are not treated like this and we never would suggest such asinine crap.

    7. Ella*

      All of this. Get out. It’s not so much that they can’t pay you, but a reasonable employer would understand that because their funds are limited, that means they get a limited commitment from their employee. They would be apologetic and understanding, not scolding and negging yoh. You manager at your other job is entirely right and reasonable to not want you doing other work while on his time clock.

      I can’t help but feel like they’re taking advantage of you because this is your first job out of school, you don’t have a lot of experience or options, and maybe not a lot of practice setting limits. Get out before they further warp your idea of what it’s reasonable to expect of an employee.

      1. Anonymousterical*

        “I can’t help but feel like they’re taking advantage of you because this is your first job out of school, you don’t have a lot of experience or options, and maybe not a lot of practice setting limits. Get out before they further warp your idea of what it’s reasonable to expect of an employee.”

        THIS. So much, this.

        My first job out of college, I was a “salaried” paralegal and worked 60+ hours a week but was paid for 40 (when, aside from a few times a year, 40-45 was all that was needed). No 401K, barebones health insurance, no raise schedule, no bonuses; I had been making way more money with way better benefits at the Retailer Everyone Hates Can You Guess Which One It Was(-Mart) I’d left, after all the hours were put in. The only paralegals in that office were young women right out of college, and the 15 year legal assistant was so degraded, demeaned, and abused that she whimpered when she went into the partner’s office and shook like a leaf when the partner approached her. It was awful. I jumped to a job that wanted 65-70 hours a week, because my idea of what was reasonable was incredibly warped. And now I’m voluntarily unemployed, but you know what, I’ve finally reached that stage where I’m immune to the “work till you’re dead, and, if you’re dead, walk it off, or you clearly don’t care about your career/our company/whatever” line.

        So, yeah: get out.

        1. A Nonny Mouse*

          I had the same problem. I worked for a solo practitioner who had just one other employee. I knew the workload would be heavy, but I didn’t realize how bad it would be. I worked 60 hour weeks (between hours at the office, phone calls after hours, etc.). Once I had to go to back to the office (a 20 minute drive) after taking my Lunesta so that I could email her a document because she refused to let our IT company set up remote computing. I made $40,000 a year, and she insisted that because I was salaried and had the title “Chief Operating Officer,” I couldn’t be paid overtime. That title was JUST a title – I had no decision making authority in the office outside of office supplies and did more personal stuff for her than for her business (e.g., planning her 50th birthday party in Miami). I calculated it out and given the hours I was working (and I was expected to be on-call 24/7), I was making less than the minimum wage. The last straw was when I had to go to her house at the last second in the middle of winter because her furnace broke and she “didn’t have time to go home and wait for the repairman.” I had to sit there for four hours waiting for him to show up, in a freezing cold house, with no dinner or anything to drink. I had a nervous breakdown shortly thereafter, but without any health insurance (she said it was too much money, even though she set up an HSA for herself, and this was pre-Obamacare), I couldn’t see a doctor and still had to work through it.

          I now work a job at 35 hours a week, for more money, with benefits. No after-hours calls, no having to check email on my vacations, no personal shit for my boss at all. People underestimate how important work-life balance is. OP, RUN FOR THE HILLS before you have a nervous breakdown like I did.

          1. Evie*

            I worked for a sole practitioner right out of college and this is 100% identical to my experience. The only difference being that the attorney I worked for insisted I was an independent contractor (and paid me as such) despite the fact that I was working 55-60 hours per week. I reported him to the IRS and went back to grad school. Good riddance.

        2. neverjaunty*

          And let me guess: the firm took the attitude that there wasn’t a problem because we’re a law firm, we can’t possibly be breaking the law?

        3. A Non*

          “If you die, walk it off” is a joke from the new Avengers movie. Joke. Even people who are literally superhuman and protected by plot armor know it’s an unreasonable expectation. Employers who ask for that… nopenopenopenope.

        4. Anonsie*

          Oh yeah. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they hired a new grad for this role.

    8. Addiez*

      GET OUT! I work at a nonprofit too and we don’t always pay as well as we’d like – but if someone said they had to have a second job to get by we would never give them a hard time about that.

      That being said, I don’t recommend doing work for second job at first job – even if it’s slow. That’s likely to rub your employer the wrong way, and they’ll have more justification for wanting more time from you outside fo work.

    9. Stranger than Fiction*

      Also, please inform the EEOC, and if you have any emails of them asking you to work these free hours, make some copies as evidence. These people are terrible.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just to clarify, that’s not an EEOC issue; it’s one for your state department of labor. EEOC is things like discrimination and harassment.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Wrong agency, but the advice to make copies of the e-mails is great.

    10. JoJo*

      Start looking for another job, then report them to the EEOC. What they’re asking is illegal – it’s wage theft!

    11. Anonsie*

      Sometimes I wish I could embed a little clip of that Gnarls Barkley song into the comments of posts like this. RUN! RUN AWAY! RUN CHILDREN, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

    12. Rachel*

      Agreed, that stuff is not worth it. Unfortunately, in my experience, it’s pretty typical in the non-profit field. I got many, many variations of the same message (albeit coached in softer and more legal terms) at previous jobs. Although they usually reserved it for we exempt employees. But yeah. All the guilt, all the “how can you want a cost of living raise”, all the ” you’ve worked a million hours but don’t you care about the mission? You could always get a job at taco bell” (…and make more money, I’d always add bitterly in the back of my mind).

      I’ve heard rumors of non-profits that aren’t totally exploitative, but I’ve kind of stop believing in them.

  2. The IT Manager*

    OMG! My jaw dropped and I got further and further into question 1. I know the WTF Wednesday is not a THING, but WTF! This is shocking to me in a different way than some of the crazy situations I have read about here. It’s taking a known problem area to an overt extreme. LW1 is being flat out told to break the law by working for no pay for at least 10 hours a week. And although I have heard about non-profits asking a lot of their employees for the cause, telling an employee to go to a food bank in order not to pay them a living wage and preventing from keeping another part time job to just “wow!” so out there. These people are trying to manipulate you LW#1 into thinking this is normal and acceptable.

    You need to get out now. With this level of manipulation, I can’t see this ending well for you. If you can quite before you are fired, they will still be unlikely to good references somehow claiming that you were not a working hard enough. Although your best hope, it that that are so brainwashed themselves, they’ll actually tell people that you refused to work extra for free. Take the experience you have gained and run now and find a job that pays you enough to live on.

    1. Marzipan*

      Well, unless I *really* overslept it’s not even Wednesday, so that’s further evidence right there for WTF Wednesday not being a Thing. It’s more evidence for just the general range of weird stuff lurking in people’s work lives, irrespective of the day of the week.

      #1, it would be one thing if this were purely a situation where you were accepting a lower-than-average wage at this time in your life in order to do Good Things. I did that myself for several years, and I don’t regret it. But actually, this is a situation where your willingness to accept a lower wage in order to do those Good Things is being exploited and manipulated by your employers.

      What this actually reads like is one of those messed-up group-membership rites of passage – a bit like hazing, if you will. People within the group may have experienced horrible things in order to get there, but rather than those experiences giving them empathy towards people trying to join the group, they expect new recruits to have to endure the same things (or worse) to earn their own membership. It becomes, on some level, about proving you’re up to it; and about tradition. All that ‘suck it up’ and ‘dedication to the cause’ business, and the whole ‘Live like our clients! It’s valuable experience!’ thing (which, logically, I’m guessing the reason people are your clients is because they’re experiencing great hardship of some kind, so this is pretty horrible advice).

      The reason I draw this parallel is, it’s another reason to run for the hills. People in that mindset can’t be reasoned with about it. It’s not that the fact that you aren’t earning enough to be able to *buy food* doesn’t register with them; it’s that they think not being able to buy food is a trial you have to go through because they did/other people have. They’re couching this in terms of you being selfish, but what it comes down to is that they’re telling you, in actual words, that in order to become part of their group you have to endure various hardships that they consider reasonable but no-one outside the situation does. So, yeah. Get out get out get out.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes! I realized later last night that it was only Monday. I was very disappointed. I have a longer work week ahead than I realized.

            1. Salyan*

              Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday! Lol! At least we are in consensus that it is May? ;-)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My son shouted out “Friday!” this morning, and for a brief blissful moment, I thought it was. Turns out, he was gleefully remembering that he has a field trip to the go-carts & bowling place on Friday.

      2. Paige*

        Did anyone else catch the “we put in our dues before we met our partners” comment in #1? How insulting! As a single person, the insinuation that I should just wait to get married and somehow that would make all this BS ok is really, really condescending. Of course you can put up with garbage like that when your partner makes bank. Attitudes like this let many nonprofits keep going with deranged, burnt out employees – or they simply become pet projects of bored trophy spouses. I’m sorry, passion only gets you so far. If you want to win sainthood through poverty, join a cloister.

        Full disclosure: I’ve worked in nonprofits on and off my whole life, and they paid decently. Charity Navigator still loved them, because they were able to function efficiently. Staff were happy and skilled. Imagine that.

        1. LMW*

          I’ve never worked for nonprofits, but this kind of sentiment lurked in the background at a former job. It paid poorly, but people were willing to work for less than average out of love for the job. The majority of people were married and it was always a dual income household. They all thought the salaries were fine. Those of us who weren’t married could get by if we didn’t have any obligations (student loans, child care, car loans, etc.), but we couldn’t really get ahead (and most of had obligations). There was this very subtle underlying attitude that we could get by until we got married and then we’d be fine. It was like it was a “hobby job,” not a real job. There was also a huge burden placed on “paying dues” or working from the bottom up (not that you got much of a raise as you went up the ladder).
          I will say this though: It used to be that if you worked over the amount of hours you were supposed to for more than a few weeks (for example, if you had a specific project), they’d look at why and try to change it so you didn’t have to by shifting workloads or deadlines. And if you were working a lot of overtime, most bosses would give you comp time in addition to overtime pay if you were eligible. While the pay sucked, they are least wanted work life balance to be great (and the benefits were good too).

          1. Paige*

            Ugh. Just… ugh.

            But you’re right, at least they recognized that even if they couldn’t move the finances toward better compensation, they had to reward their employees somehow. LW1 – and unfortunately many like him/her – aren’t getting such a fair shake.

        2. Jess*

          Yeah, the “marry rich eventually” solution stood out to me, too. Who thinks like that? (I mean, besides my mom, but she’s mostly kidding.)

          1. blackcat*

            I have known many, many teachers who have been given this advice. I think it’s pretty common in “women’s work” fields. You’re expected to work for pennies because “it’s a calling” rather than a job that should pay the bills.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            My husband once said “I promise to always keep you in the manner to which you’re accustomed. You’re accustomed to being a grad student, right?”

            1. Paige*

              @Cath in Canada Haha, clever! Ramen for every anniversary :-)

              @blackcat EXACTLY. These attitudes are insidious, subtle, and really hurt women’s income potential. Just because you’re single does not mean you don’t deserve to be compensated in a way that lets you be self sufficient. Assuming that “you’ll get married eventually” doesn’t balance out treating people poorly by preying on their compassion.

          3. Paige*

            My mom too. The “mostly” depends on how many of her friends’ kids have gotten married recently.

        3. Addiez*

          I can’t help but throw in a dig on Charity Navigator here – I don’t love their system and I think that keeping a good rating has made good nonprofits skimp/cut in silly places. Ugh.

        4. kelseywanderer*

          I do actually work for a non-profit/NGO where we work crazy hours for very little money – but there are extenuating circumstances: 1. We live in a conflict zone where there’s very little to do aside from work (and go to the occasional party on the weekend), so our working all the time is mostly done of our own volition; 2. We are salaried employees and housing, transportation, insurance, and basically all our expenses (except for food) are provided, as well as vacation days and R&R to balance out the stress of working here; 3. We really do believe in the cause and know that this is an excellent learning/networking experience with a very good chance of moving on to bigger and better things at the end of our contract.

          All of that being said — there is nothing rational in what your crazy bosses are telling you. You are not at all selfish for expecting to be paid for the work you do, or for needing a second job to pay the bills. Good non-profits understand that they are a business, and their end goal of helping people makes it even more important that it is run professionally. In our case, the cost/benefits pretty much balance themselves out. In your case, they do not and your bosses are terrible for expecting you to shoulder all the costs with none of the benefits.

          Don’t even get me started on their expectation that you will just struggle along for a little while until you manage to land a rich husband to take care of you. Ugh. And that “others might take it the wrong way” comment is blatantly and grossly manipulative. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Find a non-profit that believes the people who deserve to be treated with respect includes their employees.

        5. TootsNYC*

          If you work those kinds of crazy hours–how are you going to -meet- a partner you can marry? Let alone a rich-enough one?

      3. Alexandra*

        LW1, I cannot agree enough with everything that has been said. I have worked as an hourly employee for two different nonprofits in different cities, industries and capacities (previously as an intern and now as a contractor) and I have NEVER encountered anything like this. Example: We just had a huge day-long fundraising event at work, and my boss called me into her office afterward to verify that I had logged ALL of my hours (her emphasis) on my timesheet.

        Since you’re young, the experience aspect of work is certainly important, but it’s not everything. As others have pointed out, it’s not just unreasonable, it’s illegal, and they are absolutely taking advantage of your inexperience and willingness to pitch in and help your team members. I don’t think Allison’s advice to “get out get out get out” can be repeated enough.

      4. RVA Cat*

        If the charity’s mission was helping the blind, would they expect LW#1 to poke her eyes out?

    2. Snoskred*

      Well it is Tuesday here in Australia and on the world clock, nowhere is telling me it is Wednesday yet, in fact in some places it is still Monday. It has only just gone from Monday to Tuesday in the USA. So how could this possibly be a WTF Wednesday? :)

      Alison has said WTF Wednesday does not exist, and I think we should do her the honour of believing her, after all, it is her website. :)

      No offense intended. :)

      1. TheLazyB*

        Alison has also strongly implied that although she said WTF Wednesday is not A Thing, it unofficially lives on in her head and sometimes things coincidentally post on that timescale (citation needed, if anyone can be bothered to find it). So you can’t really blame people for still talking about it :)

  3. Steve G*

    #5……..these are the type of things that you write without thinking as you get more experience, and they also get shorter as you get more experience.

    I think your struggle is that you think that you need to write a long, well-written, themed paragraph, that is going to be critiqued, like in school. That isn’t needed (and the other person isn’t going to be critiquing it), however. AAM’s email is perfect, but any well-written, one or two sentence email that is casual would suffice.

    I think that it would actually make you look out of touch if you wrote a longer email, even if it was well-written. Good luck with the internship!

    1. Me and my Rhythm Box*


      Something simple like “Hi! I’m back this summer, starting on May Nth over in Causality Violation Weapons. Let me know if you want to grab coffee and catch up.”

    2. Hillary*

      I don’t entirely agree – I think a prompt about how/where you met is always appreciated. I’m not great with names, so even though I don’t do a lot of events I have trouble remembering context when I get random emails.

    3. OP*

      I asked question #5, thank you for the feedback! I definitely agree short and concise is best and I am clearly overthinking this. My draft email is really quite similar to the suggested response but I thought it seemed too-familiar with someone I met once and I don’t actually need for him to take me to coffee or anything. My main concern was that I am close in age to this person and I didn’t want to come off sounding like I was hitting on him but, as was pointed out, I guess most people won’t read too much into a networking email.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Maybe you need for YOU to take HIM for coffee.

        I’m a person who loves interns, who loves internships, who thinks internships should be great dn fun and should teach people. I like being a mentor.

        If I’ve been friendly and welcoming to an up-and-coming person in my field, I would absolutely want them to get in touch with me once they’re going to be physically close to where I am. The same company? I’d really want to know.

        So, just say, “I’d love to get in touch over the summer.” Then I can invite you to lunch. And if I don’t, you should invite me for coffee. Save up; it won’t be *that* expensive.

  4. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 “My other boss gets mad when he catches me doing this work during slow times at that job”

    You’re lucky that you’ve not been fired by your second job no matter if it’s slow or not it’s a very bad thing to be moonlighting and making use of another companies resources (including the time they pay you for) to earn another income, truthfully working on your lunch break could be problomatic but keep your employment seaperate.

    And what’s up with them wanting you to work 30 hours a week without paying you for more than 20 that’s the definition of exploitation as far as I can see.

    1. Editrix*

      Yes, the being cross at the LW for doing other work is the only aspect of this where the organization is in the right. Although it sounds like the LW has been driven to it in desparation.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I read The letter to mean the work is being done for this company when the op is working their second job.

        1. Editrix*

          Ah, I took the ‘they’ in the preceeding para to mean that there are two bosses at the internship, and the second one caught her. Probably your interpretation is correct. Either way, this is the only part of LW’s behaviour that is problematic.

      2. Marzipan*

        It’s the other way around, I think – #1 is doing work for Evil Job while being paid at Second Job, just to try to keep up.

      3. TheLazyB*

        How so? If she only works 20 hours a week for them, what on earth right do they have to dictate what she does with the rest of her time?!

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Of course the OP can do as they like with the rest of their time out side of work, but I was talking about when they are on the clock for their second employer they can not be doing work for the first employer.

          Or do you mean not working at lunch time? If so it’s the perception that gives rightly or wrongly that you are not focusing on the job you’re being paid to do at the time and to me it just seems sensible to make a clear distinction between the two jobs.

          1. Sunshine Brite*

            I was absolutely shocked during my first job search how many places were advertising as part time but only willing to consider open availability. Everything from nonprofit to retail to customer service. Made it easier for scheduling but no one was willing to guarantee enough hours to even rent a room but didn’t want you to find other employment.

            1. BananaPants*

              My husband’s had this problem. He’s been trying to find a part time job in retail or customer service with night and weekend hours so that we wouldn’t need childcare for our kids and get back on our feet financially. Even big box retailers are offering part time hours but will only consider candidates with open availability.

              1. Stephanie*

                Try the shipping companies. I’m at the Brown Shipper and they hire most people part time with a regular shift (including nights) and offer benefits (if he needs those). I’d guess the other shippers operate similarly.

            2. Mike C.*

              It’s called “Just in Time” scheduling. See, they take JIT manufacturing methods (in short, where only the right number of parts are delivered to the site at the specific time they’re needed) except that they treat the people as parts. I mean sure, they could use long term forecasting to better understand their needs over specific sales periods but that requires math and really who needs that when you can just have a bunch of people on call for free?

              1. the gold digger*

                Sort of related – I was on a big SAP project and we were talking about the demand forecasting module. My VP was aghast – how could we forecast three months, a year in advance?

                The marketing director pointed out that Dell and Walmart gave us a year-out forecast.

                VP responded that our other customers were farmers and how could farmers forecast?

                We tried to explain to her that strawberry growers and peach growers know 1. how many widgets they needed the year before, 2. how many acres they will plant this year (there is a direct relationship between acres planted and how many widgets they need), and 3. the harvest date within a couple of weeks.

                VP was unconvinced. NO WAY could we forecast demand.

                She is now the CFO of my former employer. I fear for my pension.

              2. Me*

                Yeah, hubby works at a dept store (whose logo is a star) and in any time period you care to mention–like, the 6 weeks leading up to xmas–no 2 shifts are the same. The boss is constantly calling at like 11am for a 1pm shift. We don’t answer the phone anymore. >:[

                1. Retail Lifer*

                  It’s like that everywhere. I started in retail before caller ID was widespread and getting it absolutely changed my life. I did not answer any work calls when I was off because that’s always what they wanted. If I wasn’t a manager now and obligated to cover shifts no one else can, I would still do that.

            3. Zillah*

              I see that a lot, too, and it drives me up a wall. It’s such an awful way to take advantage of people who are desperate or don’t know any better. :(

            4. RMRIC0*

              After my first layoff I did a bunch of part-time and freelancing work and it was always a struggle to get schedules to reconcile. It’s part of why I still get mad whenever I hear some idiot complain how poor people wouldn’t be so poor if they worked more hours or got another job; those options aren’t always easy to find.

        2. Editrix*

          Doing work for one job while on the clock at another is not ok, whichever way round it is.

  5. Me and my Rhythm Box*

    #3: it shocks me that in this day and age, employers don’t take it as given that you offer employees a chance to Opt Out of having their name and other info published on the company website.. This was excusable back in 1996. But we’ve been living with the WWW for 20+ years now. There is literally no excuse for not checking first before publishing someone’s info to the web.

    1. majigail*

      I can totally see this decision being made, all the key players saying, “Yep, good idea,” and it being implemented before it flows down the chain. A lot of companies that do a lot of public facing work consider all of their employees to be public information, even the person back in payroll who doesn’t have anything to do with the public. An employer can choose to publish email addresses and phone extensions, that’s part of their business. I can also see not asking due to time restraints or even employees trying to opt out because they just don’t want vendors to contact them. However, any reasonable employer shouldn’t have a problem removing the OP, particularly based on her reasons.

      1. De Minimis*

        My workplace does it too, I don’t think there would be any way to opt out, it’s not done at the local level. It shows the address and office phone. The only thing that helps is that I think a stalker would already need to know where their victim worked, I don’t believe the information would come up just by googling a name.

        1. Bekx*

          That completely depends on how the website is set up. If it’s just text on a page and not displaying from like a database or something, it will show up on google. Maybe not today, but you can’t guarantee it won’t tomorrow.

          1. De Minimis*

            That explains it, it’s a search engine on the agency website and not just a bunch of text.

            Hope that may also be the case with the OP.

          2. Raptor*

            Worse, the internet does not forget…. anything that gets published can, with some work, be dragged back up even if its been removed (waybackmachine, for example).

            Do not underestimate the power of stalkers… and stalkers that have any sort of a following… to find you. I’ve seen people found by stalkers using family tree information (all of it online) to locate distant relatives to call and harass about where such and such person is… or getting on the relatives facebook and tracking down potential mutual friends they might contact to see where their target is.

            Of course, what makes this worse is these are actual family members who know something about her.. probably even what her profession is, even things like a middle name, which is very useful in tracking people. Like when working on family trees, middle names are a great way to find people. Middle names tend to be something to the family and you can find middle names, like last names, follow certain families around, making them really easy to track.

            My suggestion would be this, if the company says that no, you must have something posted.. (Because this is what I do for my stalkers)… have an alias. Something that is close enough to your actual name to count for the company, but far enough away you can’t be tracked. Do not use your middle name or middle initial (change the initial, there shouldn’t be a problem with doing this). You can go by your first name, then middle fake initial and last initial.. Or, go by first initial, middle fake initial, then last name.

      2. Chinook*

        “However, any reasonable employer shouldn’t have a problem removing the OP, particularly based on her reasons.”

        Absoultely, but not for the most obvious reason (keeping an employee safe). Basic workplace safety means minimizing safety threats on the worksite. If an employee says that publishing their name on the company website means someone may come around and threaten them at the worksite, that means there is a threat to the worksite that can easily be avoided by not publishing the information.

      3. INTP*

        I had a job at a company that wasn’t even in a public facing industry (specialized in enterprise software, the schmoozing was all with CIOs). They still insisted on putting up your picture and name on the Twitter account on your birthday and basically considered employees part of the social media marketing strategy.

        They probably would have allowed you to opt out over a stalker of course, but I imagine that’s not an easy thing to share about, especially with a coworker who has no obligation of confidentiality. And if you’re a woman a lot of people will just assume it’s your ex and you must have stupid judgment with men.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Just like most of us can’t conceive of the mindset of the cultists…er, employers in #1, many people can’t conceive of the hell many people go through with their biological families. It doesn’t excuse it, but as long as they listen and try to understand, I don’t want to fault the employers in #3 for not thinking of it if they’ve been raised in a safe, sane environment and haven’t ever really been exposed to people with issues before, much less subject to their every whim and mood swing.

      OP #3, have you ever had a restraining order? Although you shouldn’t have to prove anything to your employer for them to take the threat to your health and safety seriously, that would certainly help if they’re being dense. And it sounds like you are familiar with /r/raisedbynarcissists, where there have been discussions about remaining hidden from your family of origin, but if not, please check it out on Reddit. You need to protect yourself first and foremost.

      1. Ella*

        The problem, I suspect, is that with a restraining order, you have to furnish the person you’re filing against with your home address, work address, school, etc, so that they know what places/areas of town they have to avoid, which is exactly the information that OP doesn’t want their family to have. There’s also (since it sounds like there are multiple family members engaging in abusive behavior here) a reasonable possibility that the family member with the RO against them might simply delegate their harassing behavior to another member of the family.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, I know the pitfalls very well, but if this person has a long history of strife with their family and has moved to start over, there’s a chance they tried this when they lived closer, so if they have an old restraining order, it might help them convince their employer that this isn’t just a typical family dispute. Not that they should have to do so, but it’s not up to us or them how their employer reacts. The only thing we can help with is how the OP can deal with the current employer that they have, and so I’m trying to come up with potential solutions to possible problems for them.

        2. Karyn*

          Yep, this. When I was in high school I had a restraining order against a former classmate/boyfriend who brought a knife to a band event out of town and told people he was going to “slit my throat” for dating someone else. While it was helpful in getting him expelled (the administration wasn’t going to expel him, they only wanted to give him detention for a week, which did NOT sit well with my parents), I had to keep him informed of every place I worked and if my family had moved, we would have had to tell him where I lived. I was grateful to go to college out of town once the restraining order ended (when I graduated), because it meant no more informing him of my whereabouts.

          1. catsAreCool*

            The administration must have had rocks in its head – a 1 week “vacation” from school for such a violent threat.

            1. Karyn*

              Utterly moronic. They also called me into a meeting the day after it happened (thankfully my parents were alerted to said meeting and came with me) and told me it was MY fault because I “provoked him” by writing him a letter telling him to leave me alone. No joke. After an hour of my parents arguing with them, I asked if I could say something, and was told no. So I called the principal a very bad name to his face and walked out. You should have seen his face when I walked in and served the temporary restraining order on him.

              Two weeks later, we were sitting in a judge’s chambers for the permanent restraining order hearing, and the judge was hesitant to grant it, until he found out from the policeman who was there that my stalker had been at a football game after the TRO had been served and rather than calling the police, the principal had simply asked him to leave. The judge looked at the principal and read him the riot act, and then granted the PRO. That got the guy kicked out of school permanently, and he had to pay to go to a Catholic school. For the rest of my high school years, the principal was OVERLY nice to me and my parents. They referred to him as the big dumb goat.

      2. Anonymous for this*

        Seconding the /r/rbn rec. I’m not an ACoN, I’m the relative of one, and that sub helps me understand what’s going on. Their sidebar has links to some really useful subs, too.

      3. VintageLydia USA*

        This reminds me of a conversation I had with my MIL. Her entire family is close (nearly all the. My best friend’s parents were emotionally abusive and just terrible people all around. Somehow it came up that BFF had to do something with or for her mom and I was venting that she deserved nothing from my friend and my MIL was just incredulous. “But that’s her MOM!” and no matter what I said or what stories I told her of all the horrible things she did to my friend, MIL could not get it through her skull that some parents are awful people.

      4. Not Gonna Say*

        Omg, I didn’t know about /r/raisedbynarcissists – even after 2 years of therapy for narcissistic BS. Thank you so much.

        1. anonydoodle*

          I just found them last month. That subreddit is why I haven’t been on Ask A Manger so much lately :)

    3. Jen*

      Also, IANAL, but considering everything I’ve seen about “safety at work” and an employer’s responsibility to protect its staff from violent acts, you may want to look into whether your employer has some sort of obligation to pull your name off the website (after you explain why) in order to protect you, and the rest of the employees, from known violent offenders randomly showing up with an intention to harm.

    4. Mike C.*

      I’m with you here. How ignorant do you have to be to have never heard of a stalker before?

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You’d be surprised how naive/stupid some people can be when you say that your stalker/abuser is a biological family member.

      2. Anonymous for this*

        A lot of people who haven’t experienced it just don’t seem to think of it. Particularly with family.

        Thankfully, by the time my job publicized my contact information, the person who I was trying to avoid had either lost interest or started avoiding me as well. Yay.

    5. Mephyle*

      What is the next step if the employer responds “No, everyone must be listed; we can’t make an exception for you,” and is resistant to the above arguments? What other strategy might #3 use short of quitting?

      1. Nea*

        I would think an argument can be made for “hostile workplace” if the workplace is doing something that would draw hostile attention. Especially if, as has happened, being caught by a stalker means the employee is herself fired to keep the overall workplace safe.

        If the workplace is going to insist on having a name there somewhere, are they willing to be a little creative? Could you go to the webmaster and say “This is the situation. Please change my name on public documentation from Alicia Teapot to A. T. Pott.”?

        1. Zillah*

          IANAL, but that sounds off to me. For a place to be a “hostile work environment,” my understanding is that the problem 1) must be pervasive and 2) must be based on the person’s membership in a protected class (e.g., gender, race, or religion). This isn’t really either of those things.

      2. simonthegrey*

        I wondered if #3 had considered legally changing his/her name. I don’t know the cost, but I wonder if that would help provide an extra layer of anonymity.

        1. Coach Devie*

          What an even better idea! It sucks to have to change things for this reason, but even a surname change could give her such peace of mine. However, if sharing a married name with a spouse maybe changing first name/middle name or spelling of name could help.

      3. Coach Devie*

        I think having them alter her name if they *must* have a name, to just include an initial and last name (granted its not an extremely unique surname) or something of the sort. But even still, if she works in a role that is specialized it still might be easy to find her or figure out it’s her. I hope her company will take it down.

        I had a job once that posted our photo along with our title and direct contact. I hated it. I avoided having my picture taken for as long as possible (so my listing on the company website didn’t have a photo) but never had the conversation I should have had. I left a few months after they finally got my photograph up and it took them almost 6 months to replace it with the person who took over my role.

    6. CAA*

      I’m not saying it’s a great idea, but it is pretty common to do this. My employer is a government contractor and they don’t publish staff info. However, the U.S. Government agency we work with has added our info to their online staff directory which is linked from their public home page.

    7. Graciosa*

      Well, to be fair about it, there are levels of jobs where this is an expectation. For example, the C-suite and BoD expect to be listed on the web site – and in the SEC filings, and so on. It’s part of the job.

      The issue here may be that the people making the decisions are working in an environment where this type of disclosure is totally normal – you even have to file public forms announcing changes in your stock ownership – so they probably have a skewed idea of the concept of privacy in the business world.

      In the personal world, posting tons of information (including group pictures and trip details) is still regrettably common, so we really haven’t trained people that permission is required to post – although I’m certainly in favor of it.

      I’m not saying the company disclosure without permission is right, I’m just suggesting that the effort to understand the other person’s point of view should go both ways. I don’t think this was a Catbert scheme to make the OP miserable – whoever did this would probably be horrified by that result.

      I do think the OP would be better off not just demanding to have her information removed, but also proposing a solution to address the corporation’s goals in disclosing the information in the first place. Specifically, suggest creating a generic email account that can be forwarded to the OP. Staff who want to have their information listed can provide more detail for the web site, and others can be covered with a brief, “Finance inquiries may be directed to”

      I’m not trying in any way to downplay what the OP has gone through – just trying to help *both* sides better understand the other’s perspective.

    8. Elysian*

      I don’t think this is really that outrageous, depending on the job. There are some professions where the individuals who work there are really the draw and what the business needs to advertise – doctors, lawyers, and accountants immediately spring to mind. Maybe the OP isn’t in that type of profession, so this type of opting out won’t be strange, but either way I don’t think its nuts to not have a chance to opt-out. Sometimes the qualifications of the specific individuals are the draw for the business (or at least people seem to think they are), and you need to advertise those. I just don’t think this practice is bold-plus-italics worthy.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, it’s a pretty common practice. Most employers will have no problem accommodating someone on something like this, but you need to let them know that you need it.

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        My place of employment has everyone listed, but it’s because we’re a government agency– everything about our jobs, from salaries on down, is public record.

    9. Stranger than fiction*

      I was thinking the same thing so hopefully her employer will be reasonable or put one of those grayed out sillouette type pics with just her first name last initial and title.
      At my work I was a little miffed they punkished a group pic of the dept on their site but there were no names at least and I don’t have any stalkers like the Op

    10. Vicki*

      What’s amusing to me is to view it from the other direction. LastJb did not have an easily printable directory or ANY kind of org chart published anywhere. Not because of possible stalking, but poaching. They didn’t want ANYone to get access to who worked for BigCo other than the very top level of execs (as required in SEC filings).

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #1 If a higher overhead would affect the Charity Navigator score, just think what breaking the law would do! I think a phone call to the DOL is in order.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Agree completely. LW #1, what they are telling you is that they want you, personally, to sacrifice your life, income and health in order to hide the fact that they are doing a terrible job of running this nonprofit. Their Charity Navigator rating SHOULD be low.

      BTW, your friends at law firms are working hard – but they are not being asked to put in illegal labor or to eat at food banks.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, the law firm friends are being paid accordingly for working all the time. (Your teacher friends, aren’t in a lot of cases, unfortunately.)

    2. majigail*

      So this is why people need to throw the support services ratio out the window. (that’s the ratio of administrative and fundraising expenses over total expenses. Most funders want this to be under 25% and more are demanding less, while demanding greater reporting and accountability and by the way, no one knows about your organization, you need to do more marketing. Marketing/ social media is considered to be a fundraising expense by GAAP) Having a high ratio isn’t an excuse to under or just not pay employees. It’s a reason to consider a re-org, raise more money, or just say, 28% is still getting food in our client’s mouths while getting reporting and fundraising done and we’re ok with that number.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        Yes, I learned in grad school that 30% overhead is actually closer to what a responsible ratio looks like in practice to make sure there are the proper processes, checks, and balances in place, but places had been trying to slash all admin costs to look better on those aggregations resulting in disorganization.

    3. BRR*

      The charity navigator score is such BS. Good intent but there’s so much more to a charity than overhead, fundraising costs, and executive compensation. It’s seriously flawed when you’re ranking nonprofits with calculations that are the same for universities, arts organizations, human service organizations, and hospitals (and that’s just to start).

      1. Mike C.*

        Actually, that’s a really good point. It would make a lot of sense to me if MSF had much higher overhead than the local food pantry, after all.

      2. Is It Performance Art*

        If I remember correctly it also includes money spent to measure outcomes. If so it basically creates an incentive to not study whether your services make a difference. Even though evaluating your programs for efficacy should be a basic part of a good non-profit.

    4. Observer*

      This is actually one of the problems with organizations like Charity Navigator. They DO make a very big issue of “overhead” and things like outreach and social media are often categorized as “overhead”. But, many of these same “watchdogs” overlook the implications of this kind of thing, even though they should be obvious.

      Not that it excuses the employers here. I think that they are flat out liars, using a real problem as a way to gaslight in inexperienced young person.

      1. Rex*

        Fortunately, Charity Navigator has finally started recognizing how toxic this is, and moving away from “overhead” as a measure of effectiveness. Link in next comment

      1. Bekx*

        As someone who donates time and money to charity yearly I would really want to know this. I’m not a heavy hitter by any means, but I refuse to support an organization that treats their employees like that.

      2. Mike C.*

        I certainly wouldn’t support any charities that asked their employees to go without food or skirt labor laws.

    5. Sunflower*

      I’d very rarely advocate for taking these kind of measures- I’m much more a ‘get out and never look back’ kind of person- but this is a situation where I would call DOL. What they are doing, what they’ve said is so incredibly INSANE. I feel terrible for how your co-workers are probably being treated as well. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

  7. Stephanie*

    #1: Leeeeeaaaaaaave. The guilt trip and suggestion you use the food bank are especially gross. I would be wary of doing work for your second job at this job, as doing other work on company time is a fireable (with cause) offense at many places.

    #5: I did this at an internship. I emailed my interviewer with a quick note saying “Hi Wakeen, I’m at the California facility working on the teapot handle heating team! Enjoying it so far!” I didn’t have any aim (especially since he was in a different facility), but he enjoyed hearing from me and that I accepted the offer. It might not go anywhere, but it could be the start to a solid professional contact.

            1. Merry and Bright*

              Me too. When my 8 year old niece asked me to take her to the park to feed the ducks the other weekend I nearly died. I also had a hard time explaining myself.

  8. Ann Furthermore*

    OP1, you need a new job and you need a new job now. Your bosses are sleazy and unethical, which is why they’re trying to guilt and shame you into working for free. If someone told me that I should frequent food banks instead of earning money from a second job, I’d laugh in their face. Seriously. Choosing to get food from a food bank when you’re capable of working another job to earn money to buy groceries is a much more egregious example of taking resources from those who are in need than the convoluted load of BS that your managers tried to feed you. How is you earning money from a second job taking money away from the people your charity serves? That doesn’t even make any sense.

    1. Grand Bargain*

      I don’t think they are sleazy or unethical… not necessarily. Instead, they seem completely out of touch with the realities of daily living for those who don’t have partners/spouses with seriously high incomes. It’s wonderful that they choose to effectively donate their salaries to their clients… but not everyone can afford to do that. That doesn’t make you less caring or less motivated or less committed.

      Your boss’ and boss’ boss’ attitudes ruin it for nonprofits everywhere. If they had true compassion, they would care as much (more?) for the well-being of their employees as of their clients. They are not worthy of your trust.

      ps Apollo is absolutely right. When you are at your second job, don’t try to do extra work for your first. That’s not how you want to be.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Yes, they are sleazy and unethical: they are breaking the law and trying to get LW to tolerate it with emotional blackmail.

      2. TheLazyB*

        “They also asked how I could show such selfishness when a dollar to me is necessarily taken away from those we serve. I assured them I didn’t mean to be selfish. They said they understood but that others might take it the wrong way.”
        Sleazy, unethical and abusive, right there.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Definitely sleazy and unethical.

        They’re egregiously breaking the law by demanding that their hourly employees work half again as much as they are paid for, without extra compensation

        They’ve outright stated that they expect their low level employees to choose to live at the same level of distress as the people the non-profit is helping, in some sort of warped solidarity. The fact that they’re advocating food banks and free meals indicates that they know very well what they’re demanding.

        They know they’re not paying a living wage, but are actively chastising their employee for having a second job to be able to afford food and rent.

        They’re calling the OP selfish for wanting to earn enough money to pay for housing and food.

        Their unofficial strategy for getting out of this intolerable situation is to suffer until you can marry someone who has a more lucrative career and can support you.

        And their using the fact that this is a non-profit to justify abusing their own employees.

        I agree with all other posters – get out as fast as you can. I’d even go further, and look into options for reporting them to the appropriate authorities, for their blatant and deliberate illegal behaviour. After you’ve got a new job, of course.

      4. Observer*

        You are giving them WAAAAY too much credit. They clearly know that a person can’t live on their salary – and they know that social norms (and possibly legal obligation) expects people to actually try to work sufficiently to earn enough to eat. We know that they know because they are suggesting a food bank! And that’s why they suggest food banks, but not food stamps. Food banks will give you without looking at why you don’t have money. Food stamps will, in most states, require that you put in workfare, which would make her less available!

        1. simonthegrey*

          Around here, you have one freebie trip to the food pantry and you can get crisis help. After the first time, you have to provide income verification the same way you do for food stamps and rental assistance.

          1. Observer*

            Here, even food banks that require income verification don’t require the equivalent of workfare, though. ie They don’t require that you prove that you are working full time.

    2. Lamb*

      I read it as “any additional dollar we pay you (for those additional hours we are expecting you to put in) is a dollar we won’t be putting toward The Cause”
      Which is… true in the same way that every dollar I pay in rent is a dollar I am not spending on books for my 3 year old. By which I mean, there may be other things one would rather spend one’s infrastructure/administrative budget on , but one has to pay for the infrastructure/admin stuff in order to be able to work toward the main goal.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        The cynical part of me (which is unfortunately much larger than I’d like to admit) can’t help but think that a large part of The Cause is keeping *their* salaries in the stratosphere. This may be a hobby job for them that looks good to all the ladies they lunch with (and who the hell are these people? Claire Underwood?) but I would bet that they aren’t doing it for free or cheap. God help anyone who so much as looks at their compensation.

        And that whole “just marry someone rich” BS? Oh goody! I’ll just trot myself down to The Rich Husband Shoppe and pick one out FFS. My eyes rolled so hard on that I had to run down the hall to fetch them.

        1. JeanB*

          I’m sure you’ll never see this but I laughed out loud at you running down the hall to fetch your rolling eyes.

    3. TheLazyB*

      ” Choosing to get food from a food bank when you’re capable of working another job to earn money to buy groceries is a much more egregious example of taking resources from those who are in need than the convoluted load of BS that your managers tried to feed you.”
      Hear hear. In the UK you wouldn’t be able to access a food bank – you need to be referred by a professional who can see that you’re struggling to afford food. What they are asking you to do is horribly unethical and just wrong. Leave. I know it must hurt to hear us all saying that when you love the job, but seriously – leave.

      1. Not Today Satan*

        You can’t just anonymously go to a food bank in the UK? Even if it’s run by a convent or something?

        1. TheLazyB*

          That’s my understanding. Apparently soup kitchens are different though.

          “In contrast to a soup kitchen, individuals can’t just turn up at a food bank and hope to be given supplies. They have to be formally referred and GPs, Jobcentre staff, charities and schools in Coventry issue those they think are in acute need a voucher (printed on red paper so that it can’t be easily photocopied) for food that should provide everyone in the recipient’s family enough to live on for three days.”

          From here –

        2. the gold digger*

          Yeah! Is it a problem that people who really don’t need food banks try to scam them? I get the impression here (in the US) that it is a last-resort kind of thing that causes some people shame (it shouldn’t).

          1. Samantha*

            As a former food bank employee – no. There are always people who will try to take advantage of the system, but it’s a small percentage. As you said, it is a last resort for most people and they are often ashamed to need food assistance.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              My brother has a friend who either runs a food bank, or volunteers at one, in the DC area. For quite awhile, a very expensively dressed and impeccably groomed couple would show up on a regular basis, and help themselves to quite a bit of food. My brother’s friend thought something was fishy about that, so he made a point to walk outside when they left, and he watched them load a couple boxes of provisions into a very expensive car — like a Lincoln Navigator or a late-model Mercedes. That really ticked him off, so the next time they showed up, he went out to the parking lot when they left and stood right in the middle of the parking lot, conspicuously taking pictures of them loading boxes of free food into their fancy, high-end car. They left the stuff sitting on the ground, and got into their car and drove away, never to return.

              1. the gold digger*

                There was a story in the Washington Post by a woman about going to the food bank in her Mercedes. She and her husband had both lost their jobs. She said,

                But it wasn’t a toy — it was paid off. My husband bought that car in full long before we met. Were we supposed to trade it in for a crappier car we’d have to make payments on? Only to have that less reliable car break down on us?

                And even if we had wanted to do that, here’s what people don’t understand: The reality of poverty can spring quickly while the psychological effects take longer to surface. When you lose a job, your first thought isn’t, “Oh my God, I’m poor. I’d better sell all my nice stuff!” It’s “I need another job. Now.” When you’re scrambling, you hang on to the things that work, that bring you some comfort. That Mercedes was the one reliable, trustworthy thing in our lives.

                1. Stephanie*

                  I was about to post that. There’s a chance those people were welfare frauds, but I don’t think most people go to the food bank by choice. They could have laid-off high earners or in a profession that valued outward appearance (I’m thinking like a realtor).

                  Unfortunately, I think there is a view that people have to look poor to be deserving of charity or that there’s only one way to be poor.

                2. Samantha*

                  I didn’t realize the extent of the disdain this country has, as a whole, for the poor until I started working in social services. People just assume that those using food assistance must be lazy, cheating the system or should just get a job, when in most cases – statistics show – is so far from reality. The reality is that, in this economy, many of us are only an extended period of unemployment or a medical catastrophe away from needing those same services.

              2. Nerdling*

                You know, even people who were once well-off are able to lose almost everything. Is there some maximum level of niceness that people should have to dress/look/act below in order to be acceptable obviously poor enough to get food from the food bank?

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  I don’t remember all the specifics, but I think some other things had happened that had convinced this guy that these people were not on the up and up, and taking free food from the food bank when they really didn’t need to. Then seeing the expensive car was just kind of the last straw. I don’t think his thought process was “They drive a Mercedes, they must be scammers!” it was more like, “Hmmm….that looks like a brand new Mercedes, and it has temporary tags [implying it was purchased recently] so…..what’s up with that?”

                  That’s just an example…I can’t remember what specifically prompted him to go stand outside and take pictures. I suppose it’s possible that they had borrowed the car from someone though.

                2. Totally Anon On This One*

                  The point about the couple above- I get it. I understand how there’s a possibility that could’ve been fishy. But as others have pointed out above, there are a lot of honest people who look middle class or above, but are actually living below the poverty level.

                  When I was adjuncting, I was living below the poverty line. I needed and used some services. I got the stare-down enough times to choose to go without. I am highly educated- I can’t hide that. It permeates my speech and mannerisms. It was part of my job to look and sound professional. But what people did not see is the mountain of student debt than cannot be paid off living below the poverty line. You shouldn’t have to run the gauntlet after you’ve documented actual need.

          2. Sunshine Brite*

            Nope, not a problem with scamming but there’s such scarcity that in my area it varies per food bank where most of them you have to show id and mail to prove you live in the service area and you can only go 1-2x per month.

        3. Marzipan*

          Nope – you have to be referred by someone (like, a doctor or social worker or whoever). Food banks are also really limited in what they can give – so it’s like a 3-day supply of food, and you can only use them 2 or 3 times, you can’t just keep going back and back.

        4. Merry and Bright*

          Like below, you need a referral. The food banks tend to be run by charities in any case.

          The lady who lives in the flat downstairs from me works at one and more of their referrals are coming from the social services department which kind of says it all.

          1. bearing*

            Kind of says it all? I actually don’t understand what it says. What do you mean?

            1. UKAnon*

              I think what Merry’s getting at – correct me if I’m wrong – is that social services will only get involved when there’s children. There’s been a lot of criticism of Govt. policy causing destitution and food bank use and a huge increase in use among the working poor. There was a hoo-hah over a minister who said people just want free food precisely because you have to be referred.

          2. I called her Estella*

            I am in that UK too and it speaks volumes when a state-run department is referring people to food banks, children or not.

      2. Alexandra*

        In the US (or at least Massachusetts), you also need a referral to go to a food pantry / meal program. There’s no background check involved in doing so, and I don’t recall if you’re required to give your full name (I don’t believe so), but you do need to call a hotline to get marked down. It’s mostly a function of having the appropriate amount of food available.

        1. Anonymous for this one*

          I live in Massachusetts, and had to use a food bank last year due to unemployment and ill health occurring simultaneously. I didn’t need a referral, but I did need to register, which involved showing my driver’s license to prove that I lived in one of the towns the food bank served. You could only go once a month, and the amount of good available to you depended on the size of your family.

          I was terribly ashamed, and hope to never go back, but I will say the volunteers there were helpful, non-judgmental, and incredibly empathetic. I remain grateful that the place was there when I really needed it.

    4. some1*

      It also implies the grocery bill is the only thing the salary of the 2nd job goes to — probably not true.

  9. JustTeaForMeThanks*

    #1 Please find another job. This is really not a normal situation. Making you feel bad for wanting to make an honest living is not good. You deserve to be treated better. Get out asap.

  10. Artemesia*

    I always advised students graduating to ‘prep their references’ by sharing some details with them about their current work, if they had been in their class – the kinds of projects they had done in the class etc so the reference had material at hand. Professors have hundreds of students — even great ones need to jog their memory.

    I think doing this later on is fine also — when you ask them to be a reference quickly bring them up to date on what you have been doing and perhaps share your resume.

    But for a recruiter to do this? Ick. I would be deeply offended to have my time taken by someone like this; it is abusive and the sort of thing that would sour a lot of people on the person being recommended. Real tin ear on the part of the recruiter.

      1. Artemesia*

        by trying to direct the reference’s opinion and behavior (thus abusing the whole point of a reference) and by soaking up their time with this activity (thus abusing the reference by demanding his or her time).

        1. Zillah*

          I don’t know – I’m still not sure I’d call it abusive. People wasting your time is rude, but not inherently abusive.

        2. MegEB*

          “Abusive” is a pretty loaded term. I see your point, but it just sounds way too extreme. I agree with Zillah – definitely tasteless

    1. HR Pro*

      I agree that I’ve gotten the advice to prep my references. For example, if there’s any skill or competency I want them to be sure to mention when they talk about me. In fact, one of my references asked me what I wanted her to focus on. I never thought those prep conversations should be long – the reference is basically volunteering their time to do a very helpful thing for you. Perhaps the OP could ask the recruiter what he/she wants the references to focus on, and the OP could pass that along to the references. That would be much more normal than having the recruiter do it.

      1. Judy*

        I’ve generally sent my resume to my references, and maybe write a paragraph for them describing the job I’m interviewing for, so they know some background. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to them, about giving a reference, just email.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, I do a lot of reference-providing for former colleagues or employees, and I’d be annoyed as all get out at a recruiter who wanted to coach me.

      I *do* want to hear about the job, and its requirements/tasks, before they call me. I want to be able to remember the stories that apply to this specific job.

      But I’m a pro–I know how to focus on the skills and personality traits that will make you look good, and that will apply to the job you’re applying for. I’d be pretty insulted.

      But mostly, I just don’t have time and energy. And I haven’t ever met a recruiter who was as good at job-hunting as they think they are.

      OP, you’re right to resist this. And I love Alison’s response. Just keep it short and keep refusing.

  11. Lamb*

    OP 1, I have worked at a good non-profit, they are out there!
    When they tell you you could be getting food from a food pantry instead of working hours you’d be paid for, they are suggesting taking food that was intended for someone who didn’t have a way to afford it. They are suggesting that some other charity give you food so you can afford to work on their cause for free. Instead of dircting additional dollars away from their cause to you (and since you are working for the charity, money they pay you IS furthering the mission), they want to direct another charity’s money/resources away from that charity’s cause to you so you can work more for them. Yes I did say it three times; it is three times ridiculous! Someone is indeed being selfish here, and it ain’t you!
    If they need free hours from you in order to prop up their Charity Navigator score, then they don’t deserve that score. And seriously, how small would the charity have to be for $100/week (10 hours at $10) to significantly change their stats?
    You are being taken advantage of!
    (Also yeah, don’t work for this company while at your other job; if the non-profit decide to cut the number of hours they are willing to pay you for per week, you’ll want to be on good terms with your other boss so you can pick up shifts there.)

    1. Sherm*

      Yeah, these bosses have no right to give anyone a guilt trip when they advocate unnecessarily taking from a food bank. Food banks don’t have an endless amount of food.

    2. Confused*

      “… gone to food banks or dinners for the poor…By living as our clients do”

      So, the non-profit organization exists to help the clients but to work for organization you have to use the resources intended for the clients…???

        1. Natalie*

          Despite their bullshit about having paid their dues, I would bet a million billion dollars that they have *never* needed to go to a food bank. They’re probably thinking back fondly to the era when they couldn’t afford Whole Foods. IME people who have actually needed social services are not so cavalier about pushing others into that experience.

      1. themmases*

        This is so outrageous. People who think it’s no big deal to have to depend on food banks have no business running an organization that serves poor or homeless people.

    3. AnonAnalyst*

      Yes, all of this. All of #1 bothered me, but I found the food bank part to be most egregious. The people running this non-profit (or at least OP’s managers) are completely unethical, and this isn’t part of “paying your dues.”

      Good luck, OP. I hope you can find something else in your field soon with more normal expectations! I’ve also worked for a non-profit, and it didn’t function anything like this one, so as Lamb said, they’re definitely out there!

  12. Kat*

    #4- Dont go in on your days off to check on things. You’ll look like a control freak that cant let things go. The place functioned just fine before you were a manager and that hasnt changed.

    1. RetailManager*

      Once you start checking in on your days off, the employees will think they can contact YOU at any time. Instead, coach them into better decisions which will boost their confidence, increase their skillset, and show your superiors that you are doing your job come review time! I’m going to bet your DMs and RMs already contact you on your days off, as it seems to be industry practice more and more. Stand firm in your free time!

  13. katamia*

    OP1 reminds me of the kerfuffles surrounding McDonald’s and I think Walmart when their budgeting advice to their employees went public and turned out to be seriously messed up. And, yes, this is completely unacceptable and you need to be job hunting/picking up more hours at your other job/whatever will be livable soonest.

    1. Stephanie*

      Walmart had a food collection at work and McDonald’s came out with a budget that assumed people had second jobs, $20/month health insurance, and no heating bill (among other ridiculous things).

      1. Mike C.*

        Not to mention those patronizing videos acting is though people who don’t make a lot of money simply don’t know how to spend it properly. I tend to find that though who have little tend to know exactly where it’s going.

        1. the_scientist*

          Right? In my experience the working poor can tell you what food items cost down to the penny and know exactly (again, to the penny) how much money they have in their accounts and what that money is allocated to.

          Honestly, “Nickel and Dimed” and “Hand to Mouth” should be required reading for all grade 10-11 students in North America. Not that this would prevent Walmart, McDonald’s, and their ilk from exploiting their employees, but at least the casual observer would have a better understanding of what the lives of working poor people are actually like, and would understand that people who need social assistance aren’t lazy bums.

          1. themmases*

            I strongly agree with this. I would also recommend The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler. At times the conclusions he draws are kind of condescending or IMO not supported by the story he just shared, but the interviews and observations are great and many have stuck with me.

            Particularly in a society like the US with such a threadbare social safety net, you need surplus resources in order to optimize any of them (e.g., you can’t earn interest if you can’t afford to save). Many stereotypical behaviors of poor people aren’t irresponsible, they are about crisis management. I think those books get that across really well.

          2. Heather*

            Hand to Mouth is FANTASTIC. Nickel & Dimed is also wonderful, but I can see Hand to Mouth appealing much more to a younger demographic.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I’m an awesome budgeter when I little money. If I’ve got $38 left until pay day, I know where every dollar is going.

    2. Observer*

      This is much worse. Don’t get me wrong – the others were bad, especially the McDonald’s one. But, this is a whole other level of badness.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      After watching a documentary on Netflix, I hate Walmart they completely shaft their employees its outrageous I wont set foot in the UK supermarket that they own.

  14. TheExchequer*

    #1 – Tell me, did they also make you and 19 other people serve dinner? I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous. Run like the mother loving wind.

    2 – I’ve only had one company (the one I’m working at now) call my references! I can only imagine their response to being asked to spend an hour prepping.

    3 – 5 – Spot on advice as usual

  15. CC*

    The further I read into Q#1, the more my jaw kept dropping. When I got to the part where they suggested you go to a food bank so you could afford to work for free, I laughed. It’s such a ridiculous suggestion that there is no other response but incredulous laughter.


    1. CC*

      One more thing, because you sound young and maybe they’ve gotten you to believe that this sort of abuse is simply “paying your dues”: It’s not your responsibility to subsidize your organization’s goals or their clients. It’s ESPECIALLY not your responsibility to subsidize your organization’s work when you’re a part-time employee without benefits. They’re blatantly attempting to STEAL your time and your compensation for their own benefit. Seriously. Run and run fast.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Yes. It’s reasonable, early in your career, to “pay your dues” by doing boring admin work or living off a fairly tight budget. It’s NOT reasonable to have to work for free and eat at food banks(!!!!!!).

        1. cardiganed librarian*

          And after you pay your dues by living in a squat and dining at the food bank, you can look forward to advancement within the organization by marrying rich! What a plan!

            1. neverjaunty*

              Eh, recommend against as a pure strategy. The one person I know who did this (rather than marrying a wealthy person for love) ended up divorcing him when he broke her wrist during an argument. Turns out that people who think they can buy their spouses also tend to think of them more as property than autonomous human beings.

                1. some1*

                  Not to say that your friend deserved in any way what she got, I meant that people who marry/stay married for the money end up miserable, ime.

              1. the gold digger*

                Nope. I did not do it right. :(

                I also ignored the advice I give to others to marry an orphan. I regret that one even more. I can earn my own money. But it’s not legal to turn my husband into an orphan.

                1. MegEB*

                  I read your blog on a semi-regular basis and I always love your anecdotes about Sal and Doris. I mean granted, they sound like awful people, but at least they’re entertaining to read about.

            2. Red Rose*

              Ha! My dear late uncle used to tell the teen-aged me, “Remember, Red, it’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor one.”

  16. The RO-Cat*

    #4 – checking employees in the day off

    I only did that in the beginning at every job I had where I managed a team (sales, including a retail-like setting). But – and this a big but – it was only for a short time, until I could set up a system where my team was able to function smoothly without me. Beyond the fact that I put a high value on my free time, such a system represents a value for the company also (think of the proverbial bus). You’ll thank yourself later if you act now to ensure your team is able to go without you for a decent amount of time (here the law mandates at least one 15-days uninterrupted vacation period per year so yeah, they had to do without me and keep up to the standards).

    1. Retail Lifer*

      Where is “here” because I’m going there. I’ve never had that many days off in a row and it will never be possible around here.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        The RO part of my name is for Romania, Europe. You’re welcome, but I’m not really sure you’d like the rest of the working conditions here…

  17. Job-Hunt Newbie*

    As someone who donates regularly to food banks, the suggestion that OP #1 go to one is ridiculous! While I want my donations to go to anyone in need, food banks do not exist to help shady employers not to pay their employees for their time! An employer who is actively impacting someone’s food security over paying them for an additional ten hours is a very toxic one. OP, run, don’t walk, away from this employer. You should not be put in a position where you need to be forced to work illegally without proper compensation, nor should your employer tell you to go to a food bank if you don’t like the arrangement.

  18. Lily*

    #1: Did you tell them that they shouldn’t expect the food bank to take money that they could use for the poor and instead of that, support the staff of another nonprofit? Every dollar the food bank spends on you is a dollar less for the poor. How selfish of your managers not to offer to pay out of their own pocket so that you don’t have to go to a food bank? etc.

    Just to make sure there won’t be misunderstandings: I won’t judge anyone who goes to a food bank, but I very much judge organisations who think that their employees going to food banks is a substitute for paying acceptable wages. WFT.

    1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

      I find it slightly ironic that this is apparently a charitable organization (since they are ranked on the Charity Navigator scale), and they are not charitable enough to take care of their own employees.

      1. BRR*

        I found it ironic that an organization that sounds like it exists to help those in need is creating another person in need and then pawning them off onto other organizations.

        1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

          That too! This org gives me a gross feeling. You’re there to help people, yet you can’t even take care of your own.

  19. Cheesecake*

    Don’t you just love how non-profits that were set up to help other people, abuse their own employees?

    OP #1, it is great that you love your job, but don’t hang in there because of that. You will love your job even more in a place with normal mgmt

  20. KT*

    OP 1-run for your life. Non-profits are NOT usually like this, that is just insane! That sounds like a horribly corrupt organization to try and take advantage of a fresh grad like that–and to suggest you go to food banks so you don’t have to work another job to pay your bills? I…I am rarely speechless, but this is one of those times.

    They have done you an enormous favor; they have let you know that they do not care about your well-being or about being a reputable organization. You’ve found this out as a young grad with the world in front if you. Take this obvious warning and go find a nice non-profit that respects its employees’ lives.

    On behalf of non-profit workers everywhere, I am so, so sorry.

    1. A Kate*

      Agreed. This employer, is not only treating the OP in a reprehensible way by trying to get him (pronoun chosen at random) to work hours beyond what he’s being paid, they think that because the OP is a young and new to the workforce, they can convince him that HE’s the one being selfish. This is horrible. Good for you, OP, for recognizing your worth, staying grounded in your sense of reality, and not falling for their abusive BS.

      I will caution that the suggestion that the OP “go find a nice non-profit that respects its employees’ lives” is easier said than done. It’s not 2009 anymore, but it’s still a rough job market out there for recent grads. But OP, no reason not to start looking. If you got this job, you can get another 20/week job doing the same thing for a non-profit with realistic expectations. You’d be more likely to get a good reference you can leverage into a full-time job in the future from reasonable employers. If your second part-time job is at all relevant to what you want to do (even barely), you don’t want to sacrifice that reference for an employer that’s likely to give you a bad one just because you won’t work for free either.

    2. wanderlust*

      Eh, I’m not going to claim that there are no good non-profits out there, but as a non-profit employee, I’ve seen my fair share of crazy and so have many of my friends – at a variety of organizations, both big and small. Nobody ever told me I should be happy to make below minimum wage to serve the cause, but there is a LOT of guilt tripping that takes place at many organizations.

      I’ve heard it explained like this: nonprofits often attract people who are drawn to the idea that they can do good for others with their career, who frequently make decisions based on emotion. In turn, you get a lot of a) people who are ineffective managers in management roles, because they tend to prioritize feelings and emotions over tough conversations as well as b) bad managers who exploit the feelings and emotions people because it’s easier for them to gain control. I’m not saying all nonprofit people are like this, or that every nonprofit is this way, but the culture of nonprofit work can often lead to this kind of setup.

      Also my stepmother used to work at a food bank that was full of this crappy culture – although to my knowledge they never asked her to consider grocery shopping there to save them money.

      1. Rachel*

        For a long time, when I first started trying to leave the non-profit field (and god, is it just me, or is having worked at a non-profit like the scarlet letter, job wise?) I used to joke with my friends that I was doing so because I wanted to be paid in money, and not in guilt.

        But it actually wasn’t that much of a joke. The thing that killed me about the first letter is that, yeah, it’s balder and more direct than what I saw, but the attitude and general tactics were something I saw at every non-profit I worked for or with.

  21. Blamange*

    #4 My current manager does that.

    Annoys the supervisors off especially when on her days off she comes in and provides a list, they feel incompetent and untrustworthy.

    1. Sadsack*

      Yes, I don’t expect to have my manager check in with me while he is out for one day or one week unless there is some huge project that we are in the midst of and he was waiting to receive some important info or some similar situation. He knows that I will email or call him with anything that is urgent that I can’t handle.

    2. kt (lowercase)*

      Yes — this gave me flashbacks to my last boss who was a micromanaging control freak. He claimed he trusted me to do my job (and he should have), but he couldn’t seem to stand not knowing exactly what I was doing on an hour-by-hour basis (not at all necessary for the job, which was lab research). I hated working for him. Micromanagement is a great way to ensure that your staff dreads the sight of you. Don’t start off your management career that way.

      Plus, if you’re non exempt, your company legally has to pay you for that time, which they probably wouldn’t be thrilled about.

  22. Katie the Fed*

    #4 – My thinking as a manager is that if I’m doing my job well, my team should be able to function just fine without me. If you’re worried your team isn’t functioning well – then you need to adjust your management style to empower them and delegate more responsibility. And then you need to let go a little. Show them that you trust them.

    1. LAMM*

      This. My manager has us send very detailed sales info at night. It’s frustrating because it feels like she doesn’t trust me to do my job… which is to ensure the store runs smoothly in her absence. It’s hard to be motivated to do a good job if your manager doesn’t trust you to do so.

  23. Katie the Fed*

    #1 –

    “They then told me that others in my position have gone to food banks or dinners for the poor so they could cut down on their food bills. By living as our clients do, they don’t put themselves in the position of getting a second job that stops them from putting in the time you need to succeed. They also asked how I could show such selfishness when a dollar to me is necessarily taken away from those we serve. I assured them I didn’t mean to be selfish. They said they understood but that others might take it the wrong way.”

    These are terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE people. Run as fast as you can. Don’t apologize to them. It’s not a character flaw to want to do well for yourself – or at least make a liveable wage. The fact that they’re trying to tell you it is, is frankly insane. They’re insane. Run.

    1. CAinUK*


      Also: once you are out the door, report them to DOL, other regulatory bodies, and leave a scathing review on Glassdoor. Charities like this divert and waste resources in critical areas (like getting food banks to cover the shortfall of a living wage for their own employees), and I think these shady tactics need the full light of day shed upon them.

  24. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Hey OP 1? You should ask your bosses if they’ll also join you at food banks. With all the money their households make, they can donate even more than before.

    Not kidding.

    Also please quit ASAP and report them to DOL.

  25. BRR*

    #1 I wonder if there’s somebody else the OP can go to in the organization? Maybe there’s somebody with common sense and not advocating for an employee to engage in illegal behavior (which if they’re insisting more people do could bankrupt the organization if they need to pay back wages). I also hope you’re applying to other jobs.

    1. Original Poster #1*

      I’m so thankful for everyone’s comments. It’s so encouraging to see that I’m not crazy. If I go to someone else in the org or on the Board, though, it’s too likely that it will come right back to me. Even if my name is kept out of it, it’s too likely that my bosses will figure out that I complained. Then all bets are off in terms of references, not to mention I can’t exactly afford to quit this job. If I find something, yes, but not until then.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        You can definitely report their violations to the Department of Labor and your state’s equivalent, because not paying an hourly employee for hours that they are told to work is a serious crime. And unless this “charity” was just founded, for all they know it could be someone whom they drove out years ago whose complaint started the investigation.

        1. Audiophile*

          It’s too risky. I have a slew of things I COULD report my current employer for. I’m non-exempt and we recently sat through a “mandatory” training session on a Saturday. For quite a few people, this was overtime, but everyone got paid at straight time. And they took those hours out of a few people’s checks and said it will be paid separately (though no specific date was given for when this check will appear.)
          This is the second or third time, they’ve done this. Would I likely have a case for the DOL? Yes. Is it worth risking the loss of my job to file a claim? No, not really.

      2. JoJo*

        I’d send them an email about the wage situation and hope that they respond. That would give you something tangible to take to the DOL.

        1. Audiophile*

          Oh there was an email trail that said outright, they would not pay OT and would just pay straight time. They’d owe me back pay for the class from 2013, because I worked more than 40.
          But this last one I mysteriously didn’t have 40hrs. But really they shouldn’t be issuing separate checks, it doesn’t matter how they have want to bill it to the client, they need to pay on time and properly.

  26. jhhj*

    #1 — If, however, you actually couldn’t afford food because job 1 is not paying you enough, you would be ethically fine to go to a food bank — they’re for people who can’t afford food, no matter who they are. Your employers are wrong for expecting you to work more than 50% extra unpaid and saying that you should quit a paying job to work for them for free.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yes. It would not be bad of OP1 to go to a food bank if they needed it. But it’s terrible of OP1’s employers to suggest that OP1 quit their second job to put in ten more hours a week *for nothing* and then go to food banks *as a result of doing that*. In other words, they’re asking OP1 to basically get “paid” by the food bank for their extra ten hours.

      Which, uh, no. That is a gross suggestion on the employer’s part.

      1. jhhj*

        I agree the employers are being gross. I just didn’t see a lot of people saying “but if you need to use a food bank, that’s okay”, and I wanted to get it out there. This is distinct from “our business plan depends on our employees needing to use food banks” which is way not ok.

    2. Olive Hornby*

      Came down here to say exactly this–OP, if you are eligible for assistance, please do not hesitate to accept that assistance. Depending on your income, state, and living situation, you may be eligible for SNAP or other benefits. Accepting those benefits doesn’t take funding away from someone else and is absolutely ethical, if you qualify.

  27. Sunshine Brite*

    Oh and how long you need to live like this LW1 – even if they weren’t doing all this super shady stuff, if you’re unhappy in the way a position affects your life after giving it a full year of trying it out. It’s time for a job search. Unless you’re in a super niche, there’s plenty of opportunity to grow and change throughout your career until you find somewhere to land.

    I did a service year, stayed my jobs through grad school a few months – a year and a half with times overlapping, did my first social work job for a year and a half, now I’m almost a year and half into this job and I plan to stay quite awhile to develop a strong track record and stability if possible. But in my market, it’s also not expected so if things start to go bad for some reason I have options and my supervisors know that and actively try to create a good work environment the best they can for retention – which is actually very poor in my area.

  28. LBK*

    #4 I don’t see a problem with this if “checking in” means texting whoever is running your dept for the day or another manager who can pull up the stats. Or just get your second-in-command in the habit of texting you the stats if they’re particularly notable (I used to do that for my manager when she was off). Aside from that, if there are any issues that warrant your intervention or informing, rest assured you’ll hear about them. No one is going to hide things from you because you weren’t in the store for the day.

  29. Not an IT Guy*

    #1 – Not condoning what the non-profit is doing, but I know if I refused my employer’s demands to work off the clock (also as an hourly, non-exempt employee) I would not only lose my job but be effectively blacklisted from the field and thus out of the workforce. And I’m 11 years out of college, is this something the OP wants to risk especially so fresh into their professional life?

    1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

      If an employer was willing to fire me over not wanting to work unpaid, after I’ve been told to go to a food bank to cut down my food costs, I absolutely would risk it. That is a toxic employer. I wouldn’t want a reference from them as far as I could throw them.

    2. Observer*

      Seriously? Your employers might fire you, and people like that have no problem in lying, either. But, I’d like to know in what field you can be blacklisted forever for refusing to work off the clock.

        1. neverjaunty*

          That is a field where it is routine and accepted practice to steal employees’ wages?

    3. CoffeeLover*

      Hopefully you earn enough in this job to be able to survive. I think the truly unreasonable part of this is that OP is being asked to work more hours and sacrifice her other job when she’s not being paid a liveable wage. I think you’re situation is also different in that I doubt OP would be blacklisted from her field. She’s in social media after all, so I do think she should “risk it” and leave this awful job.

    4. Mike C.*

      Why in the hell haven’t you reported this behavior to the Department of Labor?

    5. Cheesecake*

      For OP the ends don’t justify the means. It is a part-time job that is not paid enough so OP had to get another job. Mgmt sound like real dodos (to say the least) so even if what you say is true, i am sure in the industry this org. is known as “oh, this insane non profit”

    6. Original Poster #1*

      My parents are sick about this, but they have given me this exact advice. They feel I can’t risk setting these people off because indeed I’d be blacklisted. I didn’t mention that we have had a Congressional committee chair (yes, that Congress), a couple of legislators, and broadcast and print media come through over the past six months. I’m particularly concerned about the boss whose S.O. is a partner in a high-level law firm. That person in particular has amazing connections, and could easily destroy my ambitions at the drop of an email.

      In light of that, I don’t think I can just go off “crusading”. I can’t afford to do that. I am hunting for another job so I can leave on reasonably good terms.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, the fact that so many high profile people are connected gives you some leverage. Yes, try to find another job first, but as the (a) social media person you should be cultivating your relationships with the (or their staff, which is just as important.) I assure you that if the ** hits the fan tehy will be all SHOCKED at the abuse. and you make sure this is documented, they will drop the org like a hot potato.

        If the board is in any way functional they will understand the risk, if this is pointed out to them in a non-confrontational manner.

        1. mel*

          Yes, this is what I was thinking.

          Sure, you could bend under the almighty power of ONE poorly-run organization, slip away in the night and be regarded forever as that “one employee who isn’t a team player” (sounds like a great reference you’re trying to save there).

          OR you could out their illegal practices and adjust THEIR reputation and valuable connections instead.

          Choices, choices.

      2. Creag an Tuire*

        In that case, while you’re making your escape plans, just stick with the old stand-by: “I can’t do that — we could get in a lot of trouble if somebody found out we were breaking the law.” Oh, -you- wouldn’t report them to the DOL, of -course- not, but somebody could find out. You know, some Puerto Rican Guy.

      1. Not an IT Guy*

        Of course…but I also realize that I’m employed at-will. And with no accomplishments to my name in almost 8 years with this employer it’s not like I can easily find another job.

  30. EW*


    Pulling your name down can lead to awkward situations where the website staff list is genuinely used by everyone. For example, if you’re told to contact the lead teapot maker within the orange chocolate teapot department, you need to be able to look up who that person is or at least get the right email for them.

    I know some orgs have worked with the public naming system by providing a nickname or pseudonym in place of your name so that nothing looks amiss. Alternatively, just listing a generic email address, like rather than your name next to the staff title.

    This just depends on your context. In my position we have project staff lists and taking people off is absolutely not a problem. I agree with the advice just to be clear about the problem and open a conversation about how to make reasonable information accommodations.

  31. Kfish*

    Really, what I get from this website is that I do NOT EVER want to work for a nonprofit. Ever.

    1. Observer*

      Why? You’ve only seen stories of bad non-profit employers, and none from for profit employers?

      1. Cheesecake*

        I once wrote same and got similar reply from Alison herself. While it is true that there are crazy stories from for-profit employees, they can’t be compared to what is submitted by non-profit guys. So i agree with Kfish

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m pretty intimately familiar with what’s written about here, as you might imagine, and it’s really not true that the nonprofit stories are worse. The small employer stories are the ones that are bad, both for-profit and nonprofit. Also, you notice “nonprofit” more because people tend to use that label, whereas very few people (if any) say “I work for a for-profit business.”

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Yes. Small employers are disproportionately horrible – I think because they tend to be run by tyrannical/crazy/clueless founders with no checks and balances from other people in authority.

        2. Observer*

          I don’t know what you have been reading, but even here, that simply is not the case. (And, obviously, we don’t hear from the well run places.)

          The supervisor who stole someone’s ipad, the guy who came after an employee and left dents on her mobile home from banging so hard, the supervisor who threatened to fire someone, in fact all of the bosses nominated for the worst boss of the year, were all from for profit organizations. And, for creepy and gross, I’m not sure which one is worse – the place that was giving someone grief for not being razor thin or the boss that was buying her staff bras – but they were both for-profit entities. There are a lot more stories, but this is enough to start with.

          Bottom line – there is LOTS of crazy out there, and it’s not all concentrated in the non-profit sector.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Great point about all the worst boss of the year nominees! And in the comments on this thread alone, there are loads of stories about crazy and abusive practices in for-profit businesses.

      2. Oryx*

        Not only that, but people write here specifically about bad employers. Think of all the non-profit employees who AREN’T writing in because they have a pretty good thing going.

      3. Jem*

        Someone upthread mentioned non-profit jobs being treated as “hobby jobs” and I think this can be a real issue at some smaller non-profits. It’s certainly been my experience. Enormous organizations like universities are a different thing, but there can be a lot of dysfunction with small charities – a sense of not taking things as seriously as they should be taken or sometimes people patting themselves on the back a little too much (in the form of slacking) because they’re working for a cause. And of course the assumption that their employees don’t really need the money and should be working out of the goodness of their hearts whilst the executive director is on a European vacation.

        It’s like family businesses. Sure they’re not all bad, but they do seem to have more than their share of screwed-upness.

        1. Observer*

          And of course the assumption that their employees don’t really need the money and should be working out of the goodness of their hearts whilst the executive director is on a European vacation.

          If there is one thing I would very much not expect at a small non-profit, it’s this. The structure of these places generally does not lend itself to stuff like this.

          I’ve worked with many, many non-profits over the years, and I have seen a lot of weird stuff. But to the extent that this kind of thing happens, it’s in the larger organization.

          I’m not saying it COULD NOT happen. After all, if low level employees at a for profit entity can get pressured to give an “amazing” boss an all expenses paid ski trip, anything is possible…

    2. nona*

      Yeah, what I get from this site and real life experience is that I’ll volunteer for them but not work for them.

    3. A. D. Kay*

      It’s easy to get that impression, and I don’t think I would want to work for a non-profit either. But just due to the nature of AAM, we only read about non-profits that have problems. People don’t ask Alison for advice if everything is hunky-dory.

      1. Joey*

        Well it is probably easier for non profits to take advantage of people. One because so few people understand the laws regarding volunteering and non profits frequently have a built in make you feel guilty card that for profits don’t.

      2. Cheesecake*

        Well, it is obviously based on what is posted here; AAM doesn’t have capacity to answer all questions. Maybe if she had army of smart minions we could read more bizarre for-profit stories. But from what i see posted, non-profits are proud champions of “are they for real???” stories.

    4. Selkie*

      In my experience the majority of non-profits and charities are nothing like this. Usually you can get some sense of the culture before you start – but I do sympathise for people who end up in situations like this. It gets better!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. I’ve worked in nonprofits my whole career and in my experience this kind of thing is far, far from the norm. Of course, it depends on the organizations you choose to work at; you need to do due diligence, just like with any other employer.

        And again, if you choose a small employer in any sector, chances are higher that there will be dysfunction.

  32. Xarcady*

    So, you’ve been told that the only way a person can afford to work at your job is to marry rich. You’ve been told to work off the clock, illegally. You’ve been told to quit the job that helps buy your your food and pay your rent, and go to a food bank.

    This is not how non-profits work, not any of the 3 that I’ve worked for. If paying you for all hours worked would cause such problems for them, perhaps it is the amount of money they are raising that is at fault, not that you want to be paid a living wage. They are blaming you for their own incompetence in running the organization.

    It’s a job. Not a life sentence.

    Please, start job hunting. And when you get a new job, report this organization everywhere you can.

    You deserve a lot better.

    And does anyone else think it is sad that a person can be working two jobs, and still not afford rent and food?

    1. Violet Rose*

      Sad, and probably the strongest case for a higher minimum wage that I’ve ever seen.

    2. nona*


      You might try letting a local website or newspaper know about this, too, after you leave. I think donors and real volunteers might like to know what’s going on.

      1. Dana*

        If the places I donated to were involved in accusations of this, I would never write them another check.

  33. CatDog*

    What they’ve made very clear is that they want to pay you for a part-time job but want you working full-time hours. It isn’t just doing a little extra here and there. They stress they expect a very minimum of 30 hours (so from subtext expect more), but at many places a full working week can be defined as from 35 hours! I know it’s a non-profit but there’s no excuse. I would report them to the labor board/authorities in your state, as this is illegal. I bet it’s not the only dubious thing going on, and you may well find that those at the top of the food chain are ‘somehow’ drawing a big salary whilst the entry-level staff get treated like this. The big cheeses did ‘pay their dues’ after all!

    The company doesn’t care about you (their attitude of ‘how dare you want to be paid for doing a job’) and if you stay the environment is just going to get worse. There’s no magic bullet to fix this. They are already openly breaking the law and if you stay you’ll just get stressed and burnt out trying to make it better.

  34. CatDog*

    Note: The big cheeses did ‘pay their dues’ after all! had sarcasm written after in brackets, but it seemed to have gotten stripped out when I posted.

  35. MH*

    OP #1, talk to your second job and see if you can get more hours. Your first job is being ridiculous. And for them to save money like that – who knows where it’s going. And for them to suggest you use food banks to sustain your living is an insult to them and the population they’re supposed to serve.

  36. Amethyst*

    LW #1, it honestly sounds like your employers are emotionally abusive, not to mention unethical. I do hope that you can get out of there. You can’t trust people who expect you to live in untenable conditions (what if the food banks run short? what if Evil Employer decides you need to take some unpaid vacation to balance their budget? what if you get sick and don’t even get the 20 hours – because I’m guessing that never in a million years would they pay you sick time).

    Don’t worry about their Charity Navigator score. They don’t deserve it. This is exactly why I don’t trust people who say the best charities have extremely low or no overhead. Maybe you can find full-time work elsewhere or your second job might be able to give you more hours. I wish you luck.

    1. Observer*

      This is exactly why I don’t trust people who say the best charities have extremely low or no overhead


  37. Observer*

    #1 I want to clarify one thing. Your employers are flat out liars.

    1. It is absolutely NOT the norm that people new to the files put in a minimum of 10 UNPAID hours a week.

    2. Charity Navigator does indeed put way to much emphasis on overhead rations – and pushes for ratios that are often too low. BUT you can a decent score, even on Charity Navigator, and still pay your staff their full salaries – at least you can if you are running the place right.

    3. It does NOT “look bad” to donors and funders when people get paid for their employment, as long as the salary level is reasonable (ie what people get bent out of shape are high 6 and 7 figure level salaries, not $10 per hour hourly wages.) Government funders and institutional donors absolutely EXPECT full wages to be paid. Your bosses know this. They also know that anyone with enough money to give, get to see how many hours you get paid vs how many hours you work, does not any different expectation either. A lot of them do expect ridiculously low salaries, but they do NOT expect people to work for free.

    I don’t know how your organization is constructed, but you should go either to the top ranks or the Board on this. You may want to find a different job first, though, because this kind of craziness generally means a board that’s not doing its job, which means that although it’s illegal, you will probably face retaliation. Once you are out of there, give the board a heads up, and then send all the information you have to the DOL, whatever local regulatory agencies exist, the organizations that fund these guys and also the IRS. What they are doing to you is not tax fraud, but I’d be willing to be that there are issues like mis-classification etc. going on. (Calling people contractors means they don’t have to pay social security and offer benefits to full timers.)

  38. Dasha*

    #3 I’m a little late in the game (someone may have suggested this already) but is the website contact section one that’s like this:

    Jane Doe, Teapots Coordinator email:

    Could you ask that your email and contact simply be your title this instead:

    Teapots Coordinator,

    I would continue to push back for your safety.

    1. shirley*

      This is a good point. If someone is searching for her name, her company might pop up if it’s linked to her email address.

  39. grasshopper*

    #1. I’ve worked in multiple non-profits for the past 15 years. Your situation is not normal and don’t let that organization think that it is. Insist that your boss watch the Dan Pallotta TED talk about spending ratios in non-profits. Well run and effective organizations need to spend money on administration and fundraising.

    Also, on the other side, if other readers give to charity please don’t demand that 100% of your donation go only to programs. Non-profit employees shouldn’t be martyrs to do good work.

    “Our generation does not want its epithet to read, ‘We kept charity overhead low.’ We want it to read that we changed the world.”

    1. Editor*

      I apologize for snarking at your device’s spelling “correction.” I do think “we kept charity overhead low” could be an epithet at some organizations. “We changed the world for the better” is a great epitaph.

      Curses on auto-correct. (That’s one of my favorite epithets.)

  40. Wow.*

    In regard to the OP #1 reactions above: I just saw a nonprofit job posting with one of the requirements listed as “live at the same income level as our clients”. This is a thing now?

    1. Joey*

      This sounds like code for “we pay crap and expect you to live on govt assistance”

    2. MK*

      I could sort of see a point, if what they are trying to do is hire someone who really needs the job and/or will have first-hand experience of the challenges the clients face. I still think it’s not a good idea, though.

    3. Career Counselorette*

      Well, maybe not- if it’s a role like outreach or counseling, they could be thinking that the clients will respond better to someone they know has a similar background. It could also be an effort to diversify the staff. That’s very different than hiring someone for a set amount of hours and then demanding they put in extra unpaid hours and skimp on basic necessities like food and housing and using “your commitment to the cause” as a bargaining chip.

      1. Joey*

        Oh Cmon. Why couldn’t you just have that experience in your past? You don’t have to currently live poor to identify.

        1. Career Counselorette*

          We frequently receive leads for really good jobs at non-profits or within city agencies in which they give preference to candidates living in public housing and/or under a certain income level. I think there are a lot of intricacies in the public housing and assistance system that are really hard to grasp unless you live it or have lived it. Point being, based on the work I do and the population I serve, if I saw that in a posting, it wouldn’t raise a red flag for me unless I saw that it was a teeny tiny org that no one had ever heard of, the wage was unreasonably low, or there were no benefits.

          1. Joey*

            That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If you’re doing counseling or outreach wouldn’t it be better to give preference to someone who no longer needs the assistance? You know, a success story.

            1. Career Counselorette*

              You know, the implication that because someone is still poor they are not “a success story” kind of makes me really uncomfortable.

              1. Joey*

                It’s not that their poor it’s that they still need assistance . Once you’re off assistance that’s at least a small success.

                1. Editor*

                  I don’t think being poor means someone isn’t competent, though, so I would not want to say that getting off assistance is a measure of competence for a job assisting others.

                  I can picture any number of scenarios where people might have to stay on assistance for longer than they want because of deaths in the family, family members becoming disabled, or other ongoing needs (such as a child with serious health issues). Sudden disabilities or the death of a wage earner who was supporting a caretaker and family can really wreak havoc on family finances for years. If the caretaker has to become the wage earner, for instance, they may not be able to get off assistance until they’re offered the job.

            2. Observer*

              That’s not really relevant. the point is that it’s possible to have that requirement without it being an excuse for abuse. What the OP is dealing with IS abuse.

      2. the_scientist*

        If that’s the intent, though, “lives at same income level as clients” is a really hamfisted way of explaining it. i worked for a non-profit that served people with mental illness, so generally a marginalized population that’s also dealing or has dealt with abuse, drug addiction, homelessness, difficulty finding employment and extreme poverty. This organization preferentially recruits people with “lived experience”; basically those people who are or have been where the clients are now. To me, that’s a much better way of explaining what the employer is actually looking for- because you are correct that there are a lot of intricacies in the system that are virtually impossible to understand unless you’ve been there yourself.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Was it an AmeriCorps job? I’ve sometimes heard that language used to describe the stipends they are given.

  41. Mimmy*

    #1 – I always bristle when I see reference to volunteering extra hours at a nonprofit and always forget it’s illegal. A place I volunteered at had at least one person doing both – volunteering and doing paid work. However, this place is NOT abusive in the least; they probably just genuinely thought it was okay.

    OP – Start looking for a new job asap.

  42. Joey*

    #1. To be clear generally you can only volunteer when the volunteer work is substantially different from paid work. Makes sense doesn’t it? Otherwise the DOL generally considers it compensable work.

  43. Career Counselorette*

    I’m absolutely horrified by everything in #1, and if I were a donor or a board member I’d absolutely want to know about this, because this borders on a hostage situation.

    I work for a community non-profit that really stresses getting involved with local activities, being present at community events, and generally identifying with the clients more than the average org, but the way they foster that is not by squeezing our salaries so hard that we’re forced to go to food banks and take second jobs. And even though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using public assistance and MANY working people still need to use it, and I believe that the stigma around it would be far less if more people took advantage of it, the whole “living as our clients do” is such tone-deaf BS, I’m disgusted- especially coming from two people who have lifestyles that seem to be far above the income bracket of their client population. If you’re aiming to help low-income people and assist them with overcoming poverty, you don’t consciously use free resources designed for people with no other choice. What would happen if OP #1 went to the food bank and ran into some of the org’s clients there? What message would that send to them?

  44. ExJourno*

    I’ve been in a situation that *felt* like OP #1’s situation, being asked to put in extra hours for no pay when I needed a second job to survive, but I was full-time and salaried. This is much, much worse.

    OP, take whatever experience you’ve earned at this job and use it to find a new one. Many, many exploited workers don’t have the resources to get out of their unfair, illegal situations. It sounds as if your second job and your parents’ assistance can get you out of there, so I hope you do.

  45. Mike C.*

    Why in the heck won’t people name names? I certainly don’t want my money going to a charity that emotionally manipulates employees to live in poverty while breaking all sorts of labor laws. It’s not like I can’t take my money to another similar charity that doesn’t treat employee like garbage.

    1. Sadsack*

      Yes, the last time I saw an outrageous issue mentioned here about a nonprofit, it was just for absurd interviewing practices, which the organization explained and apparently still stands behind. This situation takes things to a whole other level and would be completely unexplainable to any reasonable person. I’d love to know what org this is.

    2. Shell*

      Given how much traffic this blog gets, I don’t know if Alison would want the comments section to go down a path of lambasting employers, however much they deserve it. Seems like a rather big tangent.

  46. TubbyTheHut*

    #3. Please speak up asap. A crazy ex of mine found me because my employer put my picture up on the website. On occasion he emails me at work and sends LinkedIn requests.

  47. anonima in tejas*

    #3) I also have these concerns because of a family member with mental illness. I think that it’s completely reasonable for you to ask your employer to remove your name from the website. I have asked for that before, and it was hard for me emotionally, because I had to talk about some of the reasons at work. I want to suggest an alternative. Can you ask to go by your first initial and last name? Would that help in any way? It may make you less google-able, and also satisfy your employer’s requirement. Good luck!

    1. Zillah*

      I’m really sorry about your family member and the stress that it’s caused you. :( Your first sentence did bother me a little, though, so I want to point out that the vast majority of people with mental illnesses are neither violent nor stalkers.

      1. anonima in tejas*

        Hi Zillah, I didn’t say that they were either (and they are not either), but I was using it as an example as to why my experience might be relevant (but not the same) of the OP. Please don’t deduce these things from my words, when it’s simply not there.

        1. Zillah*

          I understand that – but when you identify “a family member with mental illness” as opposed to just “a family member,” you are implying that their illness is relevant to the rest of what you’re saying. You may not have intended that, but the implication is there.

          1. kt (lowercase)*

            +1. It is there whether you intended it to be or not. Now that you know it’s there, you can leave it out in the future, and you won’t be accidentally saying things that hurt people and perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Win-win.

  48. Changing my name for this*

    I have a question about the comment “you can never volunteer for your employer.” I’m on the board of two non-profits. We pay all employees for their time worked and would never ask them to do their jobs for free. However, some also volunteer in entirely other capacities within our organizations. Do we need to prohibit them from doing that? I’ll give some examples for clarity but they are just analogous because I have changed details to remain anonymous.

    1.) Non-profit health care organization. Accounts receivable person is paid for all of her work. She also volunteers with the organization’s literacy program teaching people to read outside of normal work hours.
    2.) LNA’s at said organization. Also volunteer at night/weekend fundraising events. One involved working side by side with celebrities so there was a fight over who got to actually volunteer.
    3.) 5k to fundraise for organization. Some staff run/walk in it, some volunteer at the water stations etc.

    Where it gets a little murkier –

    4.) Volunteer does animal care at an organization on a volunteer only basis with set shifts. A 10 hour per week paid position opens up and she applies and gets it. It involves similar but higher level animal care. She still volunteers her usual shift in addition to her paid shift.

    I would hate to have to tell my organization that their staff can no longer also be volunteers for any event or in any capacity. Is that what you are all saying though?

    1. Joey*

      You can absolutely volunteer as an employee at non profits and govt orgs. You just can’t volunteer to do your paid job. It’s got to be doing work that’s typical of volunteers and it’s got to be voluntary. In other words it has to be clear that you volunteered to do volunteer work.

        1. Judy*

          Many of our Girl Scout Council employees also have their own troops with their daughters in them (or sometimes just have their own troops). Obviously, there are many many more troop leaders in our council that are not employees.

    2. M*

      Your first 3 scenarios fine but I think you need to revisit scenario #4. While it’s ok now who’s to say down the line employee won’t claim otherwise and leave the job vulnerable? You should revisit the laws in your state and perhaps develop some sort of volunteer agreement. I do think an employment lawyer will pause with #4 and if it can’t be addressed on a person by person basis will outright suggest banning volunteer aspect in same department that other duties are paid for.

  49. puddin*

    #2 – yes this is overkill. It is overkill to prep you along every single step – but for the reasons you mentioned it can make sense to ‘go along with it’ for now. However, this is way too much to ask of your references. In addition, if I were the hiring manager and found out that the references were prepped by the recruiter, that would cause some serious doubts about the recruiter’s ability to adhere to professional norms and therefore any referred candidates would, unfortunately, fall under that same suspicion.

    Don’t even ask your references if they will prep like this. Decline for them.

    Finally, is this an outside or an inside recruiter? Reason I ask is what if you don’t get this job (god forbid) and this is an outside recruiter…Will you go through this same process all over again for another posting?

    1. OP2*

      We’re on the same page. This is an outside recruiter. I work a niche job in a niche industry so positions that are really a good fit are hard to come by. I would probably not work with this recruiter again unless I was again presented with a great opportunity. But it’s unlikely since companies tend to hire all different outside recruiters.

      I was not a fan of the prepwork she’s been putting me through as I feel I am perfectly capable but as you say, I’ve just been going along with it. If I wasn’t really, really interested in the job I probably would have stopped the process after the first interview just because it’s so time consuming on my end! I just wasn’t sure if this was some new practice with references I hadn’t heard about.

      Thanks for your feedback!

  50. spek*

    In retail, or any other industry where your workers are not experienced professionals, you absolutely should stop by every once in a while on your day off. Not as a normal thing, maybe just pop in once or twice per month just to “grab something out of your desk”, or “check an email”. It’s good to show up unannounced to make sure no one is sleeping (or having sex) in the break room and everyone is acutally there when they are supposed to be. Your employees will be much less likely to get into trouble if they know you could show up randomly at any time, even if it’s unlikely.

  51. Outta Here*

    OP1, this sounds like where I work. Which is why 2/3 of the employees here are actively job hunting and the other 1/3 are too close to retirement to consider leaving. It’s not normal, and wanting to go home at the end of your work day (whether it’s for a second job or to enjoy your life) does not make you a bad person. I hope you find a place where you’ll be appreciated!

  52. John R*

    #1: AAM’s advice is DEAD ON. GET OUT. I’ve worked for nonprofits in the past, including as an hourly employee when I was younger, and I was NEVER told to work for free. There WERE things the group did such as garbage cleanups in poor neighborhoods, collecting gifts for poor kids at Christmas, etc. but these were ALWAYS totally voluntary and no one ever gave me a hard time if, for example, I couldn’t do a volunteer cleanup on a Saturday.

  53. John R*

    #3: Have you considered changing your name? I know you shouldn’t have to since you’re the victim but, still, it might save you a lot of grief in the future, not just at this job but just generally letting you live your life without worrying that your name will accidentally get out there. It’s not that expensive to do if you use something like NOLO.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Still might be worth doing, especially if you change your name to one that’s extremely common. If your new name is Jane Smith, and there’s a million Jane Smiths out there, it’ll be difficult to find you even if people do figure out your new name.

  54. A. D. Kay*

    OP1, I hope you take everyone’s advice to heart and get out as soon as you can. Please be careful not to let them know you are looking. They sound like they would be vindictive about it. And of course you can’t use them as references! Before you give your notice, make sure that all your personal belongings are out of the office and all loose ends are tied up. That way, you can just GTFO if they flip out on you. The standard notice period is two weeks, but as cray as this place is, you may have to leave earlier.

  55. Graciosa*

    Regarding #4, this very much sounds like you’re concerned about demonstrating that you’re on top of things – especially as a new manager – but checking in unnecessarily definitely sends the wrong message.

    It says you don’t trust your staff – or you haven’t trained your staff – or that growth in the company requires giving up the rest of your life so that you can *always* be at the service of your employer. None of these are good messages.

    One thing you really need to know as a new manager is that your employees are *watching* you.

    They are tuned in to you much more than you imagine – it still surprises me, and I’ve spoken to much more senior managers who have the same reaction. I’m just not that interesting, and I’m pretty consistently even tempered and boringly predictable – but I’m their manager and they take their cues from me.

    One thing I do deliberately is take vacation – and I don’t check email, and I don’t call in to see how things are going. Someone knows how to reach me in a true crisis (usually my boss) but I expect to be left alone. This is just work. If I won the lottery tomorrow or was struck by lightning, the company would somehow survive.

    The biggest predictor of work life balance is your boss’ behavior. You are now their boss, and you can set a good example – and demonstrate confidence in your team – by just leaving them alone when you’re officially not working.

    Take advantage of the opportunity to get a great result with literally no effort.

  56. LQ*


    I’m guessing you care deeply about the population you are serving and you really want to make a difference. But adding another body to that population isn’t what you want to be doing. Nonprofits want to drive themselves out of business. They want to actually cure disease, to lift people out of poverty. Some of them have much longer views than others, but basically the goal is to drive yourself out of business. The nonprofit you work for is doing the opposite, it is creating more bodies within a population that need service and support. That’s a good for profit business model when you want to create a population dependent on your product, but not one that is good for helping people.

    These people who are running this aren’t sacrificing to help the population they are supposed to be supporting, they aren’t making sure that donated dollars are used in the most efficient manner possible.

    You can walk away without feeling like you are hurting this population at all. You aren’t doing anything wrong by not contributing an extra chunk of your time each week. You will be helping by walking away and putting your time toward another organization that does things in a better way that actually helps people.

    Please don’t listen to your employer when they say things like you are selfish. You are not. They are. They are deliberately adding to the service population. That’s selfish. You are trying to not be a part of that service population so that others can benefit from the resources that are out there. That’s great.

    Please don’t listen when they say that, you aren’t being selfish by wanting to make sure that the service population is one body less.

  57. JMegan*

    They also asked how I could show such selfishness when a dollar to me is necessarily taken away from those we serve.

    Gobsmacked. That’s so incredibly offensive, I can’t even find the words to describe how I feel. They’re calling you selfish for refusing to work for free? On a 24-7 basis? What the…what the…WHAT???

    All I can say is what Alison and others have said – get out, as soon as possible. There are lots of NFPs out there who do good work and don’t think of their employees as selfish because they want to get paid a living wage. Good luck, and please send us an update when you can!

  58. Nea*

    OP #1: “a dollar to me is necessarily taken away from those we serve”

    NO. So much NO. That’s one of the clumsiest guilt trips I’ve ever seen tried, and good for you for not taking it. Basic operating costs are not “taken away” from anyone; they are the literal price of doing business. Your time is valuable, your effort moreso. There is no guilt in demanding adequate compensation for them.

  59. KT*

    I’m throwing this out there because I can’t stop thinking about this post–Original Poster #1/or maybe Allison, could you reach out to me? I work for a huge national non-profit that is hiring country-wide (and pays a real wage, weeeeeeeeeeeee!) and have contacts at many others–and I have a relative who is a headhunter for non-profits)

    This letter really bothered -no one should be treated this way. I’d be happy to help put you in contact/refer you for jobs that would be a good fit.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        It really is a small world I just clicked on to your profile and we’ve got some contacts in common despite not working in the same sector or even the same country.

  60. Original Poster #1*

    I am so, so, so thankful for all the heartfelt comments people have left for me. Really, it’s been amazing to read such encouragement. Thank you all for your wise comments.

    Indeed I am pushing hard to move on; your comments have encouraged me to do so. But understand, I can’t just go to DOL. One, I believe in the mission of the program, and it would be destroyed even if these two were removed. Two, I can’t guarantee that DOL will actually pursue this, and if they don’t I’m up a creek.

    What this really comes down to is that if we want to keep jobs and then leave on OUR terms, I don’t see how we can do anything but accept this until we can leave. If I had a wealthy and powerful partner, then I could leave right now and report them to DOL. But I don’t; I can’t be sure it would work and I’d surely be found out. What matters most, though, is that I know what these people are doing is wrong. So I can leave, but I hae to do so the right way.

    1. MegEB*

      I totally understand, and I think you are handling this incredibly gracefully (feel free to ignore my comment below about calling the DOL – I didn’t see this post). Just keep in mind that even though you believe in the mission of the program, there are undoubtedly other nonprofits with a similar mission that also manage to pay their employers a more reasonable wage. A nonprofit that doesn’t treat its employees fairly doesn’t deserve to operate.

      1. Zillah*

        Just keep in mind that even though you believe in the mission of the program, there are undoubtedly other nonprofits with a similar mission that also manage to pay their employers a more reasonable wage.


        1. Zillah*

          Also – Joey’s absolutely right below. Why do you feel like you’re be worse off than you are now if the DOL didn’t pursue it?

    2. Natalie*

      “One, I believe in the mission of the program, and it would be destroyed even if these two were removed. ”

      I urge you to reconsider this stance, at least the thought process. It’s totally ok if you don’t want to drop the dime on them because you don’t have the emotional or time capacity, or because it’s a risk you don’t feel up to taking. But please don’t avoid it just because you don’t want to cause any harm to this organization. First of all, on a practical level having a good mission is about as important as having a nice personal credo. It doesn’t actually mean shit as far as being effective. And, on a philosophical level, having a good mission is not a blank check. If they were, say, taking money from the food bank, would that be okay because they have a good mission? What about income taxes, maybe they just stop sending in your payroll deductions to the IRS. Is that okay?

    3. Joey*

      I’m not sure you understand how DOL works. If you told them this was a problem that affected multiple employees they’re likely to just come in and do an audit. When it happens DOL either just shows up unannounced or sends a generic letter and doesn’t get into any details about why they’re investigating. I’ve recieved one of these letters on the employer end and its a standard form letter that says it could be due to a number of generic reasons. I’ve also had a wage and hour investigation happen and they requested things like timekeeping records, looked for required posters, interviewed random employees, etc. Of course I had my shit together so everything was fine but I had no idea why they actually investigated.

    4. Creag an Tuire*

      Well, I hope that “accept this” doesn’t mean taking the extra hours — as I said above, if you’re worried about burning a bridge to early just stick with the “Some Puerto Rican Guy will report us to the DOL” defense.

      I’d add, though, that the people who’ve lied to you about so many other things -might- have overinflated the strength of their “connections”.

      And don’t worry about destroying the mission — the mission deserves to be carried out by somebody competent.

    5. Sunshine Brite*

      Either other programs overlap with the mission or a new will take its place if there’s truly a place for it in the market. Our state recently took over some nursing facilities and shut down a community organization with all the clients being served through other organizations being diverted the resources.

      I think for my state, Department of Human Services would also be a resource/help for this sort of situation. If they’re found out, it’s on them not you. Really, if all these powerful people found out what was happening they’re going to be more likely to distance themselves from the partners than anyone as far as blocking your ambitions.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        Also, think of what future employers will think if you’re hoping to stay in a mission based organization if you don’t report ethical/legal violations. If I were in your organization and sat on the information like you plan to, I could lose my license.

    6. Ragnelle*

      OP 1, if you decide that the best thing to do is put up with your employer’s inappropriate and illegal demands while you search for a new job, I’d recommend adopting a distant, professional demeanor to help you cope.

      -Don’t give your employers any ammunition by sharing details about your personal situation (they can’t guilt you about where your food is coming from if they don’t know).
      -Use Alison’s direct, no-nonsense language to help you direct workflow (“If you want me to do X, I won’t have time to do Y and Z. How would you like me to prioritize?”).
      -In as much as possible, do not respond to emotional arguments, especially any regarding your position.
      -Do only enough to get the job done. Resist your impulses to be thorough, assist other employees, participate in any nonessential work functions, etc. They’re not paying you for your effort and goodwill, so don’t give any more than you have to.
      -Remember that this is not a normal situation and that you deserve to be paid fairly for your skills and time. Don’t get used to poor treatment. Learn to recognize red flags and look out for them while you are interviewing for new positions.
      -Please reconsider making an anonymous tip to the DOL after you find a new position. Other posters have mentioned lots of good reasons to do so, and hopefully the consequences of reporting won’t seem so bleak after you’re in a new organization.

      I’m so sorry that you found yourself working for such unreasonable people, especially early in your career when your options for dealing with it seem limited. I wish better things for you ahead.

    7. Observer*

      Two things to be aware of:

      1. If you can document what you describe, then the DOL will most certainly follow up.

      2. It may destroy the agency, or may make it stringer. And if it does destroy the agency, it might free up the resources for someone else to do the job better. People who run things the way your bosses do are not necessarily the most effective at what they do, congresscritters notwithstanding.

      You still have some real issues to deal with, so I understand that you can’t just act cavalierly. But, it’s good to realize that no one is immune from getting caught out. Look at scandal after scandal – some of the people most deeply enmeshed thought they could get away with everything because of all of their friends and connections.

      And, by the way, smart Boards of Directors understand that. So, it’s probably worth thinking if that rout is worth taking.

  61. JMegan*

    #3, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. In my workplace, it’s so routine that nobody even notices – you simply say to your manager “I don’t want my name listed on the public website for safety reasons,” and it’s gone within an hour. I can’t tell from your letter if you have asked them yet or not – if you’re looking for ways to ask the first time, or if you have already asked and you’re looking for ways to push back.

    Either way, I hope they will be reasonable and remove it, quickly and without a fuss. Your safety is more important than their phone directory, period. Good luck.

  62. Natalie*

    “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

    You are actually working for real life Ebenezer Scrooge. That is amazing. Maybe you’ll get a goose this Christmas.

    Anyway, actual advice – you said in another comment that you can’t afford to quit this job, and that you are concerned about your reference. Firstly, if you’re going to stay at this job, you need to continue to hold the line on the extra hours. Stop working for this job at your second job – that job actually seems decent and you don’t want to risk your employment or reputation there. I know it seems risky, but if you let them take advantage of you like they want to, you’ll find that all of your extra time & energy for job hunting is going towards this terrible volunteer gig that you don’t even want. It’s a horrible cycle that could be very hard to get out of.

    Try the Miss Manners decline – “I’m afraid that won’t be possible” – repeated ad nauseum. Don’t give them reasons to argue against and don’t get sucked into arguments. This might be an awkward or uncomfortable experience, but you can do it. And remember that if you are terminated for this, you can probably collect unemployment for those hours.

    As far as the reference, given what you know about your employers, do you think you can actually trust them to give a good reference? They’ve shown you that they’re not especially ethical people. What’s to stop them from giving you a bad reference even if you do everything they ask for, because you quit for a job that actually pays you?

    1. Well*

      I think the final point is an excellent one. I would not bank on these people for a good reference. From what I’m hearing is that they’ll say something like “Oh, yeah, I do remember OP. Well, she did fine work I guess. Just never really went above and beyond, you know? I’m not sure she really connected with our mission.” and other similar phrases that make you sound like a clock-puncher.

      To be clear, I still wouldn’t do anything that burns bridges, but I absolutely would not be using them as a reference.

    2. NickelandDime*

      I like the last point too. And something I’ve learned over the course of my career: You know these folks are awful. Other people probably know they are awful too. You don’t know what kind of bridges they’ve burned, or who they’ve angered over the years. Avoid using jerks as job references.

  63. MegEB*

    OP #1, I’m mad enough on your behalf that I think you should consider calling the Department of Labor. They are knowingly and willingly asking you to work illegal hours, and I highly doubt they’re going to change their habits anytime soon. Wanting to be paid a living wage isn’t selfish, and their attitudes are not normal or okay.

  64. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

    This was probably just me, but when I read “Get out get out get out” it reminded me of a Perry Mason episode where a gold prospector is trying to force a young couple off their gold claim, and he blasts them with a really creepy recording that echoes off the canyon walls saying “get out get out get out” in a monotone over and over again. And that’s all I can hear in my head now. *shudders*

    OP #1, that really sucks. I hope you can find something soon. Once you do, blast out what they’re doing to everyone you know. Call the DOL, leave a review on Glassdoor, report them to Charity Navigator. Unethical charities take away resources from those who are actually trying to do good. They need to be publicly exposed.

  65. Student*

    As someone who donates to food banks, I am absolutely livid that your boss would suggest that a person with a job ought to be relying on them for “cheap” food, instead of making a living wage at your job. I, and others like me, paid full price for that food and donated it to charity. He’s asking you to poach resources from a different charity to support his own. Every bit of food your co-workers take from a food pantry ought to be going to someone who’s unable to support themselves. You can and do support yourself, and that is a good thing.

    When you flee this organization, the bad person in me would be very tempted to ask a pointed question about how much these people “take out of the mouths of clients” in the form of their own salary. I am sure that they are not eating at food banks.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      The bad person in you is a lot like the bad person in me. And really isn’t so bad.

  66. Retail Lifer*

    PO #4, do not do this. Don’t micromanage your staff – ensure they know what to do when you’re gone and then follow up when you get back. Train your staff as to what constitutes an emergency in your mind and then ensure they know that urgent calls are OK when they’re within your guidelines. You’re setting yourself up for a lot more work than you should be doing. You’re going to get called in on some days off when someone calls off sick and no one else can cover, or you find out you have a surprise visit from someone from corporate and a million things need to be done before they get there. You’re also going to get phone calls at all kinds of inconvenient times when an employee can’t figure out that weird thing that the cash register is doing, what to do about this crazy irate customer that wants them to commit a fireable offense just to shut them up, or because they have no idea what the policy is when the store loses power. You’re going to be forced into dedicating time later that you probably won’t want to – don’t waste your time off now.

  67. Anonsie*

    On Skull Island, all employees will be required to marry up and be supported by their wealthier spouses.

  68. _ism_*

    Updates from OP#1 requested. My apologies I’m kinda busy today and maybe missed a comment in this thread from the OP.

  69. Jo*

    In response to OP#2, what kind of nonprofit is that. They believe in supporting their outside community but not their own staff. If they are involved in illegal activity like that, I would not want to even donate to them either. Go to a food bank?

    1. JoJo*

      I’m sure that the money they save on salaries is going straight into their pockets.[/cynicism]

  70. Audiophile*

    OP #1 is this Americorps? I’m not joking, that’s a serious question. I almost took an Americorps position, which pay for is capped at just above welfare wages. When I politely stated I was worried about how I would live on this (and I would have been living at home during my service year) the person suggested I apply for food stamps. I ended up not taking it, because it seem contradictory to take food stamps, while doing a year of service.

    Anyway, I recently worked for a non-profit and while my position was salaried, it wasn’t well paid. Add in the cost of commuting to NYC and paying parking, it would have cost me close to $600 a month. Needless to say, I was glad it didn’t work out. I was stressed about money, expectations that were unclear and was still keeping weekend hours at my old job. I agree, you need to walk away. While it was difficult to go back to my old job, it was must less stressful.

    1. Anonsie*

      Oh yeah, I did an AmeriCorps stint and they do tell you to get food stamps. Everyone in my program did. I believe though that the number of hours you can work for them is also capped because the stipend (monthly and the lump payment you get at the end) is a flat amount for the number of hours of service, so them demanding more would be a big fat no-no.

    2. Natalie*

      Americorps is a little different, IMO, because it’s a federal social program just like SNAP. Your wages are being paid by federal government, and they basically consider SNAP (also paid by the federal government) to be part of your compensation.

      Additionally, as a non-profit you can’t just underpay a worker and then call it Americorps. (Well, guess you could but that would probably actually be fraud.) NFPs that want an Americorps volunteer have to apply just like they would apply for a grant. There are a bunch of restrictions, depending on the program – you may only be able to have a volunteer for 3 years, you may need to use the volunteer to do some kind of capacity building in your organization, the volunteer probably can’t replace a regular paid employee, etc, etc.

      While the program isn’t perfect, I’m sure, it’s a far cry from this scenario, which appears to be someone cheating and bullying a low level employee for personal gain.

      1. Audiophile*

        My Americorps position was going to be pretty close to full-time. They had just made the former volunteer a full-time employee. And I wouldn’t have been able to have a second job, as that wasn’t allowed with the program.

        But anyway, I doubt this person is doing Americorp. They definitely need to walk away. My supervisor seemed annoyed, when I let it slip I had kept weekend hours at my old job. In hindsight, I’m so glad I did.

        1. Natalie*

          They finally changed that rule for VISTA, just a month ago or so. I imagine part of the goal is to increase their retention rate. You can get some really great experience, but given the pay and approximately 30 hour work weeks it was deeply short-sighted to not allow additional paid employment. Most Americorps volunteers I knew (including my ex) had a partner that supported them or a friend that gave them free housing.

          1. Audiophile*

            It was a community health position, that fell under VISTA. And ultimately, not being able to hold a second job, was a large part of the reason I turned it down.

    3. CA Admin*

      I dated a guy who did Americorps–he was on food stamps, despite working full time.

      1. Audiophile*

        It’s not easy. An article came out a while back, that said most people don’t complete their service contract. They leave as soon as they find better paying full-time employment. In trying to do the math in my head, it just wouldn’t have worked.

        Funnily enough, I ended up working a job that paid pretty close to Americorps wages and stayed for almost 2 years.

        Side note, I always wonder if those questions about whether you’ve accepted help in the last x months or years, is a negative mark against you as an applicant.

  71. Vicki*

    #2 Prepping recruiter

    I had an interview like that. The recruiter kept telling me to be sure to emphasize XYZ because that’s what the hiring manager wanted.

    If that’s what the hiring manager wanted, why not ask questions about it in the interview and put it in the job description?

    1. Tau*

      I had a recruiter tell me that the hiring manager particularly liked people who were really enthusiastic about their product and the area they worked in and so if I could make a point of that…

      Um, dude, considering that I *wasn’t* particularly enthusiastic (more of an “eh, could be interesting to work on I guess??”) I’d rather be honest about that. Because if they hired me based on faked enthusiasm, that would come crashing down on me hard eventually… long after the recruiter had collected his cut and gone his merry way, of course.

  72. mel*

    #1 I just think it’s amusing that anyone would be tiptoeing around the issue and considering slipping away to a new job without ever saying anything to anyone because of the high profile connections this business has. What good are these high profile connections to an employee when the employers are seemingly QUITE unhappy with this employee’s work? You’re going to leave that job with the reputation of either a whistleblower, or an uncooperative/lazy/insubordinate employee. Which would you prefer? As far as connections go, this is a lose-lose proposition. Lose in the best way possible.

  73. That Lib Tech*


    Hah. This is almost exactly like my current job! Except my voluntolding is for fundraising events on days off. No pay raise in two years. Working extra is supposed to be me “paying back for the benefits I recieve as an employee” (even though I do my job, and well, and pay for these benefits)! No way to go FT here, and there has been no way for my roll to grow (ageism is pretty strong here, so I am rarely deligated to substatiative work within the org).

    I’m moving on after several years. It had honestly never really gotten better, and there are no signs of movement. If you have the same feelings OP1, I’d say follow the advice of Allison get out now.

Comments are closed.