LIEN Foundation chairman Laurence Lien called for experienced leaders from the corporate sector - with "deeper networks, more capability in managing teams and skills to deliver results" - to move into non-profit organisations ("Wanted by non-profits: Corporate leaders"; last Saturday).

This search for talent must go beyond those in leadership positions. Increasing the remuneration of those who work in social service agencies should be the first step.

For a long time, the Singapore Association of Social Workers has campaigned for more competitive pay for professionals in the sector, despite the insistence that these workers should not be motivated by money.

As a graduate-to-be, I find it hard to pursue a career in a non-profit organisation or voluntary welfare organisation because of the comparatively lower salaries and fewer benefits they offer. And this is despite my interest in socio-political issues and brief experience as a volunteer in non-profit organisations. The perceived lack of career advancement pathways is a concern too.

I may not be the target audience of Mr Lien's commentary, and my pragmatism may not be representative of my peers, but within a developing field, it is not just about "attracting senior corporate people".

Any change envisioned from the top - to craft sustainable missions and shape organisations - must be matched by the abilities of those on the ground.

Besides the recruitment and retention of staff, non-profit organisations here face other challenges, including training and development of employees, performance measurement and management of the organisation, and academic research.

Let the industry develop organically. The diversity of causes means that non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations will always be staffed by diverse individuals. Those with a passion for the job will find their own incentives, yet organisations can also do a little to nudge more people in particular directions.