Want an End of Year Raise? 3 Things You Should Do Now

As I talk to clients about challenges they’re facing in the next few months, many mention they are anxiously awaiting end-of-year performance reviews as an opportunity to ask for and receive a raise.

80% of my clients are women, and when the topic of salary negotiation comes up, I jump on my soapbox about how important it is for women to know their worth and ask for it.

But before I go any further, it’s worth noting that not every organization has a fiscal year that mirrors the calendar year (January – December). And as such, not every organization ties end-of-year performance reviews to salary raises, and not necessarily in December.

So before you can prepare for asking for a raise, you need to know how and when the budget process is done in your organization, and if/how performance review conversations are tied to salary increases. If you know the time to ask for a raise is coming in a few months, these steps are for you. 

So what can and should you be doing to set yourself up for success in a few months? Read on for three important steps to take now.


1. Know What Success Is: Identify What You Want

Imagine it’s mid-December and you’re about to walk into a conversation with your manager about your performance and what merits an increase in salary. What would success look like for that conversation? It’s important to know what you want and what your goals are in order to create a plan to work towards them.

Let’s say your big goal is to get a raise. Is it a percentage of your salary that you’d like? Or is it a specific number? Is there a range that you’d consider for your goal? For example, say you’re currently making $75,000 and you’d like to be making $85,000. You’re goal is a $10,000 raise. But would you consider a $5,000 raise a success?

Or maybe what you really want is a change in title, or more flexibility to work from home, or a few more vacation days, or the opportunity to work on a different project.

Whatever you want, get specific on your goals – what title would you like? Which days would you like to work from home? How many more vacation days? What other projects?

Knowing the goal of your future conversation and what metrics you’ll measure your goal by are key.


2. Start Tracking Your Work & Building Your Case

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes. If there’s funding in the budget, they might be thinking about who deserves a raise. But even if they’re thinking about it, it’s highly unlikely they’ll proactively tell you that they’re giving you a raise. 

You believe your work over the last year has been solid and think you deserve a raise, right? Now is the time to start building your case for it so you're ready to ask in a few months.

Think back over all the work you’ve done since your last raise and start to compile and write down the evidence and data that will support your argument.

So, over the last 6-9 months… what have you excelled at?

What project(s) did you work really hard on?
What revenue did you bring the company?
What partnerships did you initiate?
What logistics did you oversee that went exceptionally smoothly?
What work are you about to take on in the future that warrants getting a promotion or raise?

The sooner you put on paper all the things you’ve contributed to your team, the more likely it is that you won’t forget important points you’ll want to highlight in a few months.

You might even consider setting up a monthly re-occurring calendar reminder to take 15 minutes every month: jot down notes so you don’t forget all the contributions you’re making to the team. Not only will this help build your case, it will show your boss you’re really serious about tracking your work and measuring your success.


3. Start Collecting Data

The third thing you should start doing now is to begin collecting internal and external data that will help boost your case for a raise.

Thankfully, there are a lot of resources that provide information on salaries inside your company, as well as external data on what similar organizations pay employees with similar titles to yours. Here are a few:

  1. Glassdoor.com is my go-to place to look for information to help advise clients on what appropriate salary levels are for various organizations and positions. You can search for other positions in your organization to see what your peers are making.
     
  2. PNP Staffing puts out an awesome report that gives nonprofit salaries by title and budget size in a few parts of the country. Download the 2016 salary reports for DC, NYC, or Philadelphia, or view all the reports here.
     
  3. If you’re a senior nonprofit professional and want to know what your peers make, you can look at previous 990 reports (available on Guidestar.org). 501c3 organizations are required to report the salaries of the highest earning staff on these IRS forms every year. They've also got a nonprofit compensation report you can buy with even more info.

Additionally, if you have a good relationship with some of your peers, you might consider asking them what they make. (If you feel awkward asking someone how much they make, you could ask for a range, i.e, ‘Do you make between 70 and 80k for your job?’)

If you believe you’re making less than those with similar backgrounds and positions, having data on internal and external salary levels will greatly help your argument that you are worth the investment and deserve a certain level of pay for the work you do.


If your review is coming up in December, it’s a bit early to start practicing the conversation and knowing exactly what you’ll say. But when that time comes, it will be much easier to tee up a polished argument if you’ve done these three things back in the fall.

In a month or so we’ll be back with the next steps for preparing for your performance review and raise conversation. So stay tuned!