APTOS—Nonprofit workers in Santa Cruz County are two times more likely than the general public to require the very social services they help provide.

That’s according to a recent survey conducted by the Human Care Alliance (HCA), a coalition of nonprofit agencies from around the county.

The HCA on Monday invited nonprofit leaders, as well as local officials and donors to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County for a sneak peek of its Nonprofit Wage Equity Campaign, a movement aimed at closing the pay gap between nonprofit workers and their peers working in the private sector.

Seventy-three percent of the nonprofit workers included in the survey reported making less than $40,000 per year, and more than half reported going without one or more basic needs, such as doctor visits and food, in the last 12 months. 

The HCA will release the full report next month. It hopes the survey’s findings and suggested solutions will spark interest in the campaign and change the structures of the county’s nonprofits.

The draft presented to the roughly three-dozen people gathered in Aptos on Monday proposed solutions to all three sectors around nonprofits: Nonprofit agencies, institutional funders (government and foundations) and individual donors.

Among those solutions was adopting a wage equity ratio of 1-to-5 between the lowest and highest paid workers, and having institutional funders incorporate cost of living increases into all multi-year contracts.

The survey included 30 nonprofit leaders who provided data representing roughly 16 percent of all nonprofit workers in the county. Also, 221 anonymous nonprofit employee surveys were submitted.

This year’s study was a continuation of a previous wage study conducted by the HCA in 2016 that found pervasive wage inequity at nonprofits and alarming impacts on the organization’s staff and quality of service.

Monday’s conversation was underscored by the county’s housing crisis and the state’s impending minimum wage increase, which, according to the HCA, will require county nonprofits to raise at least an additional $5.87 million of funding to avoid making cuts to its workforce or services.

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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