Pew Charitable Trusts Reviews

Updated July 20, 2015
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Pew Charitable Trusts President and CEO Rebecca W. Rimel
Rebecca W. Rimel
46 Ratings

Pros
  • Great work-life balance but I did see a lot of slackers, slacking and getting away with it (in 14 reviews)

  • Great benefits and paid time off (in 13 reviews)

Cons
  • Senior management micromanages everything (in 11 reviews)

  • There is a culture of fear and intense CYA (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

63 Employee Reviews

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  1. Becoming a Pew'son

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Digital Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Contractor - Digital Associate in Washington, DC

    I worked at Pew Charitable Trusts as a contractor (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Very clean. Somewhat flexible on hours and coming in a little late. Friendly co-workers. Someone's always bringing in candy/snacks/baked goods.

    Cons

    Not a lot of opportunities for growth. Slowly learn to just do Pew stuff (might be a Pro if you like doing repetitive tasks every day??) In order to maintain cleanliness & consistency, they can be kinda Nazis about your office/desk environment. Quite a salary gap between even upper management and the next level up. The building is powered from orphans held captive in the basement!!


  2. Helpful (1)

    Not bad, do your time and get out

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at Pew Charitable Trusts

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Great place to start your career as a young millennial if only because it looks great on your resume. Beautiful office space in a great location in DC. Easy to leave work at work, and when you are off you're off. Interesting projects being worked on by the various groups. The operational side seemed to have less of a morale issue than the programmatic side. Benefits were amazing when I first started and though they have since changed recently they are still pretty boss. Surrounded by (superficially) friendly, highly intelligent cadre. If you are at manager-level or higher, you will make a lot of money for doing relatively little. Stress-free work for the most part. Nice holiday parties and volunteer opportunities. Founded on great principles.

    Cons

    Dress code is very stuffy despite modern environment. Men have to wear a tie every day, no bare arms or open toed shoes for women. Promotions (or the insignificant lateral transfer) do happen but don't hold your breath on it happening to you. Turnover is ridiculously high and retention is ridiculously low. The CEO is abnormally way too involved in the everyday operation of the organization. Organizational changes will be initiated, change direction 2 or 3 times, halt, and then be completed and you're wondering why did this even start. As the staff is an amalgam of the best and brightest from far flung parts of the country, the latent, covert racism from staff who have moved to one of the blackest major cities in the country is palpable. Many people are overqualified and thus disgruntled. You'd be surprised at the number of people who hold 2 masters, a PhD, and 5 certs at the junior level (I have no idea how they can afford to pay their loans). Morale is low and people love to complain. For every competent manager, there are 5 who are lazy, dumb, or socially inept. If you aren't speaking to a stuffy, cardboard personality DC-type (which gravitates to this org particularly), no one will know where you work. They'll think you work for the Pew Research Center which is probably better.


  3. Helpful (2)

    Director

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Director in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Wonderful connections, high standards and rigor, strong track record of impact, considerable internal resources, stable upper management, excellent retirement benefits

    Cons

    Controlling, micromanaging work environment, overwhelming and unnecessary internal bureaucracy, very hierarchical


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  5. Helpful (6)

    Fantastic first job, shuffles you out the door

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Government Relations in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Government Relations in Washington, DC

    I worked at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Pew has a fantastic reputation and recruits some of the finest people. You will find yourself surrounded by extremely (and often over-) qualified people. The work adheres to the mission, and is extremely rewarding when executed well. The benefits are slowly being chipped away, but are still head and shoulders above anything else you might expect to find at a non-profit or most private companies.

    Cons

    There are two major reasons I left, which are related, but importantly distinct: a Byzantine bureaucracy and poor internal mobility. The ability to get anything done is severely hampered by an exceedingly onerous bureaucracy comprised of an intricate and redundant checklist of meetings and approvals. A simple project involving an upgrade to a procedure which might be accomplished in one afternoon by a competent small team will be dragged out over a series of meetings over the course of a few weeks (in the best case scenario). There is severe risk-aversion and fear of change that stymies the very talent that Pew brings. This also fosters a system of wasted resources. The mantra of Pew is to spend as little as possible while getting the most in return, but the institutional resources that are wasted on a regular basis is staggering. The second problem is that of poor mobility and opaque HR policies and procedures. There is no flexibility in the hiring/promotion/ process, which is made up of arbitrary requirements and neglects best-fit internal candidates for open positions. Additionally, each division is given a set number of promotions during a period, and regardless of how many staff deserve a promotion or raise, there are only so many to dole out. There is a real retention problem at Pew that leads to high turnover, the only upside of which is that there is a vast network of ex-Pew people to tap into.

    Advice to Management

    Look at reforming your internal hiring and promotion policies. You already hire some of the best and brightest, but pay them a pittance compared to what their true earning potential is. Cut down on the red tape, open up channels to move staff into positions where their institutional knowledge and skills are utilized properly, and open the rooftop deck to staff.


  6. Helpful (1)

    Good days and bad days

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time (More than 3 years)

    Positive Outlook
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Very smart and dedicated staff work there

    Cons

    Inflexible policies and lack of transparency, especially in HR decision-making.


  7. Helpful (2)

    Senior Associate

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC

    I worked at Pew Charitable Trusts (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The people are great, smart, and dedicated. The issues are important. The location and design of the office is one of the best in the whole city. You can learn a lot there from just being around some of the smartest people in the DC non profit sector and using the many resources available. Good work/life balance and great benefits.

    Cons

    I worked in communications, and the morale there was very low. The goal posts and rules kept changing from the executive suite, and it made planning, or working toward really any goal, very frustrating. Because of that element in the culture, there could be some sniping. It's really unfortunate, because it should be a great place to work, but it's not. It's also very difficult to get promoted. The institution seems to have little interest in cultivating leaders, or encouraging people to build their career at Pew.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to employees more often. Change the rules less often. Change the CEO.


  8. Helpful (3)

    HR is the problem.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Benefits are good (used to be great but they cut them). The experience is great; if you can learn and handle the game. Culture and work ethic is similar to law firms and top corporations.

    Cons

    HR - They determine everything and unless you allow a sexist man talk down to you or allow the other one to ogle you - you aren't going anywhere in the organization. HR controls everything and doesn't believe in internal promotions, even if you and your possible new boss think you'd be a great fit. Have no doubts, the chance of you being promoted at Pew is very slim. Take the job for the name (which will take you far in DC) but plan to be out in 2-3 years (which is when most burnout). Salaries vary - negotiate high when you start because raises are terrible.

    Advice to Management

    HR controlling all is not a great strategy. Give them a good look - you'll discover the spiders and rats. Allow the staff to have more input in their future and go business casual (you'd win a lot of people over with this simple change).


  9. Helpful (8)

    Good place for ambitious junior professionals to gain experience, take advantage of the name, and move on.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Associate in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Many high-performing, intelligent AND well-educated, savvy employees. Standard of work, as mentioned, is very high, which is especially nice if you've had rigorous academic training. Challenges you to do your best. You generally won't find yourself looking at colleague work product and laughing at incompetence--people take their jobs seriously and produce quality. Most people truly care about the issues they work on, but after a while it becomes apparent that appearance trumps substance every time at this organization. Campaigns are well-funded and can form partnerships with other organizations to maximize effectiveness, though budgets are increasingly constrained in some departments. Very good benefits, pay is decent. If being downtown DC is something you want, you have it at the DC office. Metro accessible, office has a gym, bike racks, free coffee, etc. If you think you want to cruise the big, powerhouse NFP circuit for a good portion of your career, this is an excellent launching pad and you will learn from some of the best about how to plan, execute, and publicly celebrate big policy wins. If you stick around long enough and have the right personality type, you MAY be able to stay there and climb (but come in relatively high up or it will take you forever).

    Cons

    A fair amount of hypocrisy: talk of integrity and transparency as "core values", but very little actual transparency about HR processes and high-level organizational decisions, and image is more important than true integrity. Day to day experience will depend largely on the individuals on your team and your manager/director, but expect to work hard and receive very little recognition internally, least of all in the area of compensation. The value will be in what you learn and the beefed up resume. It is very sad to see that there are many folks who service the organization internally (Benefits, Payroll, etc staff) who truly do an excellent job, are responsive and keep things running smoothly in the face of constant demands on them to use new processes and technologies, and despite years of service, they do not get rewarded (and no, I am not one of those people, but I appreciate them). Some say work/life balance is better than elsewhere, but family-friendly might be a more accurate way of describing it--it seems that most managers and directors are understanding of the needs of people with (and themselves have) small children, but there is a general sense that if one is not constantly "slammed", they must not be earning their keep. As mentioned in other reviews, and it is absolutely true, the culture is conformist, patronizing, overly conservative and old-fashioned, particularly in the DC office (satellite offices are a different ballgame, but the indoctrination trickles down). The open workspace plan might be better if the culture were not so uptight--as it is, it fosters neither camaraderie/collaboration, nor concentration. In essence, Pew is an organization with the culture of a large, traditional corporation, with none of the opportunities for advancement and a salary that falls somewhere in between corporate and NFP. Don't believe any hype HR sells you to recruit you---understand that your concerns about what they are offering you are probably legitimate. Get in, work hard, learn, get out. But if you are looking for place to land, build something and grow into your own, this is probably not the place.

    Advice to Management

    Just be honest with your employees--the organization hires overqualified workhorses at low levels to churn out short-term wins that look good on paper, and sometimes actually have real, meaningful impacts on our society. That's ok. Don't pretend there's more to it than that. Don't invalidate reality--it is cultish and the people you hire are too smart for it. And for God's sake, loosen up.


  10. Helpful (4)

    It can be okay

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    The people and benefits are great.

    Cons

    The constant turnover and the lack of opportunities for advancement are troubling.

    Advice to Management

    Work on retaining great staff and put a structure in place for advancement at all levels within the institution.


  11. Helpful (6)

    The research center is the one with the good reputation. This is the other one.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at Pew Charitable Trusts full-time (More than 5 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Pretty good accent furniture around the office. Lucite staircases give a modernist look, along the lines of Frank Lloyd Wright. Free coffee. Really good pep talks from time to time that sound like the version of the organization you wanted to work for. If you are a good talker, you will be able to make your time here sounds really great at your next interview. CEO is very nice on a human level. Beyond that, not enough information to really comment.

    Cons

    They have implemented new management software that pulls information into an ontological black hole and utterly evacuates the information of its semantic content. If Franz Kafka had designed an app, this would have been the result. I believe the intentions were good, but it didn't work out, and no amount of training will make it better. Be advised that if you take a job at this company, you might need to use this software all day, every day. I will also confirm what others have written: nobody I have met at this organization during the past some years has been promoted. You virtually cannot earn a promotion as you would at a corporation. It was better several years ago but it been steadily getting worse. Outlook is grim.

    Advice to Management

    Consider reducing management by two thirds. There are too many people coming up with strategic visions, implementing them unilaterally, and then getting frustrated when the facts on the ground don't match the visions.



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