I am an Operations Manager for a small non-profit in Washington DC. Outside of the president, we have 5 employees. During the hiring process in late 2019, I attempted to negotiate an increase in salary because it is below the base rate. My supervisor responded with "At this time, it is not in the budget."

Fast-forward to the beginning of the Pandemic...

Employee #1 received a 5,000.00 raise along with a promotion. She works in a different department and receives substantial raises at least once a year.

Employee #2, who started a month after I did and works in the same department as Employee# 1, also received a raise of 20,000.00 in 2020.

At the end of 2020, the board recognized Employee #3 was being paid below market rate, and they decided to give her a raise for 7,000.00.

The Board then sent out a memo at the end of 2020, stating "We, unfortunately, do not have enough funds to support giving any additional raises at this time, but we will ensure that everyone on board receives a COL (cost of living) salary increase at the end of the year."

Essentially, this meant that everyone in the company received two salary increases---except me. I've gone above and beyond my duties as OM, including heading its DEI Initiatives, developing and running a program that increased client engagement and attracted more individual donors (in the organization's history) for the company's last fundraising event.

The pandemic has been hard on most organization, but we are not suffering or in any financial distress. In fact, we recently had a fundraiser that did exceedingly well--and instead of ensuring equity in salary increase, the board recommended allocating the additional funds from the fundraiser to their Reserve funds.

Since I am the OM, I am also tasked with bookkeeping, analyzing budgets, and creating policies for new budget line items. I say this to bring attention to the fact that I am very clear about how much money we received in 2020.

How do I bring this up to my supervisor without jeopardizing my job? Is it too much to write an email voicing my concerns to the Board?

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – shoover
    Jan 25, 2021 at 2:05
  • "Fairness" is not really a good concept to use in a market economy. By definition and design that's not how things work. You have no idea what was said or done behind the scene, just that they got raises. I'm pretty sure the first person to get a raise didn't get it because they mentioned issues of fairness, because then they wouldn't have gotten the raise!
    – Nelson
    Jan 25, 2021 at 2:57
  • 2
    Perhaps your supervisor does not "like" you and whatever evidence is available to support a pay rise will be lost, ignored or forgotten. It may be time to move on - another place may place a higher value on your skills.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 25, 2021 at 6:06
  • 3
    What you're describing is not discrimination unless you think you're not receiving a promotion because you're part of some protected class.
    – Peter
    Jan 25, 2021 at 10:45

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately "I do a great job" or "other people are getting raises" or "the company has plenty of money" doesn't necessarily entitle you to a raise. Those can all be true and in that situation it wouldn't necessarily be illegal for the company to keep you at your current salary. I just mention this in case you were thinking of "discrimination" in the legal sense.

Bringing it up to your supervisor shouldn't jeopardize your job, if you've done good work and feel you're worth more there's nothing wrong with having a discussion with them about it. I wouldn't go to the board or go over their head to higher ups right off the bat.

Go to your supervisor and say why you feel you deserve a raise - IMPORTANT: focus on the good work you're doing and the contributions you've made to the company, do not make it about others getting raises or the company having plenty of money or anything like that. While it may indeed be unfair that others got a raise and not you, focus the raise around the quality/quantity of your work/contributions, it will play a lot better than "I want one because he got one".

Also give them a time frame to get back to you, say 1-2 weeks or whatever you feel is appropriate. If you don't then the supervisor can just say they'll "look into it" or the likes and then it can just drag on and/or be forgotten. Just frame it like "I'll check in with you next week about it" or the likes, make it casual but definitive.

What happens next depends on their response, but think about what you want to do if they decide not to give you a raise. Just good to have in your mind - hope for the best, prepare for the worst

  • Thank you! This puts things in perspective. I definitely did not want to approach my supervisor with an entitled attitude. Especially, because we already have a strained relationship due to a difference in principles, ethics, and organizational development. I do believe that I've done great work, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. I will try this and see what happens.
    – Worker Bee
    Jan 25, 2021 at 19:38

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