Salary Negotiation for Earning to Give

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

There seems lit­tle to no in­for­ma­tion on salary ne­go­ti­a­tion in an earn­ing-to-give con­text (see https://​​​​my-ten-rules-for-ne­go­ti­at­ing-a-job-offer/​​ for an ex­cep­tion).

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

  • Cost—The only cost for this would be the time of the ca­reer coaches. If these coaches are pro­fes­sional (which I sus­pect would not be the best path), the cost seems to be $130 or so an hour (all that should be needed). This could be re­duced with pro-bono work or by vol­un­teer­ing from non-pro­fes­sional coaches (such as pre­vi­ous scheme par­ti­ci­pants, other EAs in similar roles)

  • Benefit—This would need more data to back up, but in­creases of 10-20% seem fea­si­ble. In en­g­ineer­ing salaries, this boost could be in the re­gion of $5,000 - $40,000 de­pend­ing on se­nior­ity and lo­ca­tion. This benefit would also be com­pound­ing, af­fect­ing fu­ture salaries and in­come for ev­ery year to come (al­though this may not all end up in dona­tions).

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

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

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

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

  • How com­plex should the scheme be? At the sim­plest end, a web­page of re­sources with a feed­back sur­vey could work. A more in­volved ap­proach would in­volve co­or­di­nat­ing/​hiring coaches.

  • How well does this work across sec­tors/​roles? How does the ad­vice need to be tai­lored differ­ently for differ­ent peo­ple?

  • Could this have any nega­tive effects? e.g. An ag­gres­sive ne­go­ti­a­tion could re­sult in a re­tracted offer (un­likely, but con­ceiv­able)

  • How many (qual­ified) peo­ple would be will­ing to vol­un­teer some time to offer coach­ing?

  • How would you en­sure peo­ple stick to their promise to donate and don’t just use the ad­vice/​time for non-earn­ing-to-give causes.