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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Foundation Salaries Rose in 2011, Report Says

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Last year, independent foundations paid significantly higher salaries than their public and community counterparts, according to a report by the Council on Foundations.

The Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report, which contains salaries for 34 full-time positions, allows grant makers to compare pay among peers by foundation type, size and region, the council said in a statement.

The report also offers information on benefits policies and practices, and includes new data on health care premiums by plan type.

The report’s key findings and trends include the following:

  • In 2011, independent foundations reported the highest median salary ($86,000), trailed by much lower medians for public foundations ($66,000), community foundations ($59,100) and other grant makers ($55,105).
  • Respondents in the Northeast and West had higher median salaries ($79,150 and $75,000, respectively) than those in the South ($65,000) and Midwest ($64,000).
  • Among the 34 positions the survey tracked, chief executives/chief giving officers and program officers accounted for the largest share of reported salaries (11% each). The median salary for CEOs/CGOs was $142,000, while program officers had a median salary of $80,000.
  • Independent and family foundations reported higher median CEO salaries ($188,845 and $164,900, respectively) than public ($142,413) and community foundations ($109,242).
  • Eighty-seven percent of respondents expected to or already had increased staff salaries for 2011—a median increase of 3%.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, median foundation salaries experienced a nominal increase of 14.3%.
  • Seventy-seven percent of all respondents (88% of those offering voluntary benefits) provided medical benefits to their full-time employees. The share rose to 98% among grant makers with at least $100 million in assets.
  • Among all respondents, the median total cost of staff benefits (required and voluntary) as a percentage of total payroll was 25%.
  • About half of respondents covered the full cost of single-coverage medical benefits.

The report’s findings are based on responses to an online survey of 910 grant makers, reporting salaries for some 7,500 full-time employees.

The respondents included 326 community foundations, 241 independent foundations, 163 family foundations, 100 public funders, 59 corporate grant makers, 10 operating foundation, and 11 “other grant makers,” mainly federated and other institutional giving programs.


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