September 28, 2012

Nonprofit Execs’ Compensation Edges Upward: Chronicle of Philanthropy

Annual study finds top honchos ‘routinely’ earn more than $1 million

The nation’s largest charities and foundations gave their chief executives a 3.8% pay increase in 2011, a couple of steps ahead of the 3% inflation rate.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual survey of executive compensation and benefits released last week, top executives at 132 organizations that reported 2011 figures received a median total compensation of $429,512.

This compares with a pay increase of 2.7% and median total compensation of $475,192 for chief executives at 282 big charities and foundations in 2010, the most recent year for which many nonprofits filed annual tax returns.

Compensation consultants and executive recruiters The Chronicle spoke with said top executives at nonprofits would continue to receive modest increases—in the 2.5% to 3.5% range—this year and in 2013, although some might fare better.

Expected cuts in spending by the federal government and many state governments will directly affect organizations that receive a sizable proportion of their budgets from these sources and less from private donations or payments for services.

The Chronicle said that the highest earners in its survey now “routinely” make more than $1 million. In 2010, 20 chief executives passed that threshold, compared with 15 the previous year.

The study identified three executives who made that much in 2011: Roxanne Spillett, head of Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Glenn Lowry, chief executive of the Museum of Modern Art; and Edwin Feulner, leader of the Heritage Foundation.

One-third of the nonprofits in the survey provided bonuses to executives in 2010, a median bonus of some $50,000.

But even the highest-paid nonprofit executives look like paupers next to their counterparts at America’s largest for-profit corporations, according to The Chronicle.

Median total compensation for chief executives of S&P 500 companies was $9.6 million in 2011. Their pay rose by 28% in 2010 and 6.2% in 2011. 

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