Donors frown on the practice, and fellow employees resent it. Nevertheless, many charities award bonuses to their fundraisers, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which released its annual survey of fundraiser compensation on Monday.
The Chronicle reported that the highest-paid fundraisers at U.S. nonprofit organizations received incentive pay and other “sweeteners” as part of their total yearly compensation.
For some, bonuses were an outsize component of their yearly compensation.
The Chronicle analyzed salary data reported on IRS Form 990, mainly from 2012 but also from 2013, by 335 nonprofit groups, each of which had raised at least $35 million and had employees earning $150,000 or more. Religious groups are not required to file the form, so what they pay their fundraisers is not publicly available.
Half of the fundraisers at the organizations in the survey collected a bonus, according to the analysis.
The Chronicle found that fundraisers’ compensation did not typically reflect the dollars they had raised for their organizations.
Among the 20 highest-paid ones, seven received compensation in the five figures per million dollars raised, while 12 received compensation in the four figures, and one got a relatively measly $699 for every million dollars raised.
The Chronicle’s analysis identified several trends in compensation among nonprofits.
Hospitals, medical centers and universities, which dominate the top-20 list, have embraced incentive pay more than other nonprofits. At a good number of health care institutions, chief development officers are considered part of senior management and receive bonuses accordingly.
Deferred compensation, which some nonprofits routinely award to top executives, is sometimes structured to retain top fundraisers; they collect only if they stay on the job until the payout date.
The Chronicle found that some charities outside health care and higher education had started to award bonus pay to fundraisers. Among these organizations were the Harlem Children’s Zone, the Wounded Warrior Project, Oxfam America, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Boy Scouts of America.
In 2012, it said, the Metropolitan Opera fundraiser Coralie Toevs received a bonus while other executives there did not.
Following are the 20 fundraisers with the biggest compensation packages, according to The Chronicle. Data are from salary year 2012 and, when available, 2013.
20. Lynn Susman, Children’s Hospital Trust
Total compensation: $566,912
- Base pay: $349,547
- Bonus/incentive pay: $134,001
- Other: $83,364
Compensation per $m raised: $4,105
19. David Blasingame, Washington University in St. Louis
Total compensation: $566,976
- Base pay: $455,390
- Bonus/incentive pay: $0
- Other: $111,586
Compensation per $m raised: $2,586
18. Susan Stalcup, Vanderbilt University
Total compensation: $575,459
- Base pay: $510,864
- Bonus/incentive pay: $34,509
- Other: $30,086
Compensation per $m raised: $4,025
17. Sergio Gonzalez, University of Miami
Total compensation: $598,469
- Base pay: $520,750
- Bonus/incentive pay: $0
- Other: $77,719
Compensation per $m raised: $2,921
16. Stephen Falk, Northwestern Memorial Foundation
Total compensation: $600,066
- Base pay: $328,219
- Bonus/incentive pay: $121,500
- Other: $150,347
Compensation per $m raised: $14,782
15. Debra LaMorte, New York University
Total compensation: $616,997
- Base pay: $510,735
- Bonus/incentive pay: $92,593
- Other: $13,669
Compensation per $m raised: $1,807
14. Susan Paresky, Dana-Farber Cancer Center