Nonprofit CEOs Saw Modest Compensation Growth in FY17, Study Finds

The rate of increase in nonprofit CEO compensation slowed in fiscal year 2017, the 2019 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report (4,893 pages, PDF) finds.

Based on data reported to the Internal Revenue Service by more than a hundred and thirteen thousand nonprofits, the nineteenth edition of the annual report found that in FY17 the median year-over-year increase in compensation for male CEOs ranged from 0.1 percent at organizations with annual budgets of more than $25 million to 2.1 percent at organizations with budgets of between $5 million and $10 million, compared with ranges of 0.0 percent to 4.4 percent in FY16 and of 0.4 percent to 4.7 percent in FY15. Increases for female CEOs in FY17 ranged from 0.2 percent at nonprofits with annual budgets of more than $50 million to 3.1 percent at those with budgets of between $25 million and $50 million, compared with ranges of 1.3 percent to 4.3 percent in FY16 and of 1.5 percent to 4.3 percent.

The report also found that female CEOs' median compensation continued to lag that of their male counterparts, with gaps of between 5 percent at organizations with budgets of $250,000 or less and 20 percent at those with budgets of more than $50 million. Although the gender pay gap narrowed gradually between FY05 and FY16, in FY17 it widened slightly or remained unchanged at organizations in all budget groups except those in the $25 million to $50 million range, where the gap narrowed from 16 percent to 14 percent.

In terms of issue area, CEOs of science and technology research institutes earned the highest overall median salary ($157,700), followed by those at health organizations ($148,880), medical research institutes ($135,818), mutual benefit organizations ($128,395), and social science research institutes ($125,924). The five  areas with the lowest median CEO compensation were religion ($56,034); animal welfare ($65,016); food, agriculture, and nutrition ($70,000); arts, culture, and the humanities ($70,744); and recreation, sports, leisure, and athletics ($73,876).

"With one exception, median compensation increases for incumbent CEOs were lower in 2017 than in the previous two years, sometimes dramatically so," said Jenna Allen, data reporting analyst at Candid, who authored the report. "The exception was for men at organizations with budgets of $250,000 or less. They saw no increase in 2016 and a 1.3 percent increase in 2017. In 2015, however, they saw a 4.4 percent increase. Increases by gender in 2017 also varied from previous years. In 2015, women experienced greater increases than men in six of nine budget bands. In 2016, women saw greater increases than men in seven budget bands. In 2017, men experienced greater increases in six budget bands."