Ask for a Raise without appearing greedy

Eric Hoke
August 19, 2023
5 min read
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Ask for a raise without appearing greedy.

Early on in the I Help Pastors Get Jobs world, a member of our community called me to tell me just was offered a job! He was offered a role as a DEI Trainer in a NYC Public Agency.

I congratulated him but that wasn’t why he was calling.

He was calling because he wanted to negotiate for more money.

He was offered 65K a year, not bad for his first job post ministry but he wanted to shoot for more!

After a few minutes of talking, I told him to call back the hiring manager and use this simple script…

“Thank you so much for this offer and I’m so excited for this opportunity. I did some research on Glassdoor, Zip Recruiter and Indeed and saw this title in New York City earns closer to 70k-80k.

I believe that my unique background as someone who has spent years working in social justice, antiracism, diversity and identity, I bring an above average skill set with me to this role.

I want to counter your offer of 65k with 70k.

Is there room in the budget for this bump? If so, I’m comfortable signing on right away.”

Then wait. (This is the hard part).

This Pastor texted me and told me he did it, he almost puked but he did it. 3 hours later he texted me…


I was so happy for him and celebrated that win, but felt a slight tinge of regret.

Should he have asked for 75K?

They probably would have done it (sorry dude).

Negotiating for more money, how do you do it?

Let’s call it out. You think it’s icky, gross and un-spiritual.

I get it.

You can pass a bucket every week or send your wife to work everyday while you write sermons but asking for a raise is gross.

I know, we all believe weird things. I used to think I wouldn’t get back hair as an adult like my dad but here we are.

For starters: inflation is at a 40 year high, gas prices are outrageous, the average price for a home has jumped 16% and last week I ordered one rack of ribs and one piece of cornbread and it was $52. How tho?

Have you just noticed that your dollar doesn’t go as far as it did even a year ago? Me too.

Yet, here’s the thing: you can’t just barge into your boss’ office or your next board meeting and slam your fist on the desk and yell, “Show me the money!”

You ain’t Jerry Maguire. (But if you do this, record it and send it to me).

Yet, talking about money and asking for more money should not only be a skill you should practice but doing so can pay huge dividends long term.

Let’s take the pastor above. He just got 5k more a year.

That’s one more family vacation, 2 months of rent in NYC, one hot dog at Yankees Stadium.

But even more than that, as he gets promoted, merit increases and cost of living increases, it compounds on his initial comp, that 5k will keep growing and growing.

That is why NOT asking for a pay raise is costing you even more than you think.

So, now that you know you can’t barge in and ask for money, here’s 3 simple steps to negotiate for the money that you deserve.

1. Instead of saying, “I want to be promoted and a comparable pay raise of X” say, “I want to grow as a professional and one way to do that is that I want to be involved in strategic and high value projects within the organization. What are some areas that need attention that you think I should focus on?”

What did you just do? You didn’t walk into the boss’ office with a hand out, you walked in with a hand extended. You communicated that you want to be helpful and take on more responsibilities in the organization. You’re making everyone’s life easier and not being a greedy jerk. Nice work. I knew your mother in law was wrong about you.

There are two approaches here. One is asking the one who holds the purse strings what problems that they want solved and that’s fine. The other is to bring a problem that you want to solve and I think that is better. The big difference is you’re walking in with a value proposition and a bargaining chip to negotiate a raise.

Ok, but what does that have to do with pay? Everything. You may or may not get there in that initial conversation but let’s imagine you take on new projects and initiatives, managing staff, streamlining processes, whatever, you can continue the conversation by this simple segue.

2. Instead of saying, “I am overworked and not being paid enough,” say, “Now let’s suppose I take on this new project, this is going to be a lot of hours for me and bring tremendous value to the organization in these critical areas. It would only be fair if I was compensated more for this additional work. Would it be crazy if we could make an arrangement where if I take on this additional load, I could be paid 5% more annually?”

5% is an arbitrary number based on this fictitious scenario.

It could be broken down in different ways depending on your industry but let’s say church world for a minute.

Let’s imagine you’re an underpaid, lowly youth pastor who eats Ramen noodles and still has Windows 95 (been there, keep fighting the good fight). In my Youth Pastor days, I tried walking into the board meeting once asking for a raise and got nowhere, why?

Because I had no reason to be given a raise. Why would I? I have been doing the same amount of work for the same amount of money for years, why do I need a raise?

Also, my reasons for just wanting more money are not particularly compelling. Look at it from their angle. Do they have any guarantee that I would increase my workload with more money? No, would you be willing to give me a raise? Me neither.

But what if I came in and said, “Hey I have been the Youth Pastor here for 2 years and I want to grow in my skills as a ministry professional. I noticed Ms. Suzy, the 89 year old volunteer kids director is starting to get a bit overwhelmed with our growing kids ministry. What would your thoughts be if I worked on a transition plan to help Ms. Suzy and took over the scheduling, staffing, background checks and supply orders for our kids ministry? Do you think that could be valuable?”

Now all of the sudden the board is intrigued, that would be helpful for our kids ministry, what a team player! This young man is going places! But of course, I am going to ask for more money.

More value = more money.

3. Instead of saying, “Yup, I’m working hard and things are great” say, “Here is a list of everything that I have done in my functional job (things that are on my job description), here is a list of the things that I have done above and beyond my functional role and here are the areas I want to grow in moving forward.”

Here’s the dark and dirty secret (I always leave those at the bottom for you faithful readers, you are my people). No one is going to advocate for you to get a pay raise. No one. Unless you “have your receipts” on why you deserve a raise, it won’t happen.

I have always kept a Google Doc of high level deliverables that I produce in a given year. That way when it comes to performance reviews, I have my ducks in a row and I ask for the highest raise possible and always have received it.

Finally, it’s industry standard to ask for more money before accepting a job and it’s totally expected in the workforce as well. You work for money, you don’t have to act dumb about it. If you’re bringing value, that value should be rewarded. If it’s not, find somewhere else where it will be.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get a raise!

Not sure where to start? Sign up for my MasterClass where we talk all about how to get the job that you deserve and earn more money to change your family's life.

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