Regarding “Banking on food: Hungry for paid staff, the pros and cons of volunteers” (March 16), I want to commend the students at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School for not only volunteering at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey but for also taking the time to speak about the pros and cons of volunteers versus paid staff.
As the article pointed out, the Community Food Bank has 175 paid employees. The students seemed to take particular issue with the salaries paid to the leadership of the food bank, specifically the executive director. While the number of staff and salaries might seem excessive to some, I would like to point out that the Community FoodBank needs professionals whose jobs are to ensure that there are food, trucks, and money to support the efforts of feeding the hungry. Our institutions, especially non-profits, depend on these professionals not only to manage the day-to-day operations of large programs, but also to provide leadership for their continued growth and success.
I wish that someone had pointed out to the students that one of the best measures of a non-profit’s ability to fulfill its mission is looking at the percentage of donations that are allocated to administrative expenses, most of which are salaries. According to Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), the Community Food Bank of New Jersey has a five-star rating, its highest designation. With only 2.7 percent of money going to administrative expenses, the overall programs receive 95.7 percent of the funds raised. This is a clear indication that this charity does what it says — providing food and services for the hungry. This is testament to a highly-qualified and skilled executive director who deserves to be compensated accordingly.
I suggest that the students look at the entire picture of the organization and make sure to take this into account prior to deciding about allocating their charitable dollars, and not just scrutinize the salary of the executive director.