One of Generocity‘s enduringly popular posts is “This is how much money Philly’s 50 biggest nonprofits’ CEOs make in a year,” written by Julie Zeglen and Cianni Williams and published in late 2018.
There is no doubt we like to know what the top earners in the sector make. But why?
Organizationally, it helps us make hiring and retention choices, track trends and figure out if our top leadership is being compensated in a way comparable to their peers. Individually, knowing what top talent is making may help us map trajectories and benchmarks for professional growth and attainment.
But the nonprofit sector isn’t only its largest players.
We thought it might be useful for nonprofit pros to be able to look at the average president/CEO/executive director compensation at the top 10 organizations in each of six different budget categories.
We based the categories in the chart that follows, on the organization’s gross receipts (because the handy-dandy GuideStar search function makes that easy), and we stole the categories themselves from this 2017 GuideStar blog post (which, it must be said, used expenses to set the categories, rather than gross receipts):
- Powerhouses — nonprofits with gross receipts of $5 billion and above
- Economic engines — nonprofits with gross receipts from $50 million to $5 billion
- Large — nonprofits with gross receipts from $10 million to $50 million
- Mid-size — nonprofits with gross receipts from $5 million to $10 million
- Small — nonprofits with gross receipts from $1 million to $5 million
- Grassroots — nonprofits with gross receipts under $1 million
Caveats: Most of the organizations had 990 forms from 2018 or 2017 on file — but some were from earlier years, and a lot can change when you are categorizing by gross receipts (ergo, the Guidestar blog-writer’s choice to use expenses which can be more stable year-to-year). Additionally, some 990s listed no compensation for leadership at all (in some cases the leaders drew no salary; in other cases, the organization had operated without a president/CEO/ED the year of the 990 on file). They got averaged in anyway.
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Also, averaging the top 10 by gross receipts puts some very dissimilar organizations in the same category. So foundations, service providers, health orgs, education associations, labor unions, even the Freemasons, all got tossed into the same mix.
So, here is our compensation chart (it is more conversation-starter than report, but it does handily illuminate the wide-range of salaries across the equally wide-range of nonprofits in the city):
If you are interested in looking at nonprofit compensation in a far more ind-depth way (with expert analysis as a bonus), check out the 2019 GuideStar large-scale nonprofit compensation report that analyzes compensation by state/metro area, level, gender, cause area, and other useful subsections.-30-
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