Some Nonprofit CEOs Make More Than $1 Million a Year

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Medium-sized and large charities paid a median salary of nearly $126,000 to CEOs in 2011.

Who says charity is for chumps? (Answer: the real chumps.)

In an analysis of nearly 4,000 charities, Charity Navigator found dozens of CEOs who made more than $500,000 in 2011. At 11 charities, CEOs made more than $1 million. Here’s more from the report:

  • The median salary of studied nonprofit CEOs was $125,942 in 2011. That’s about a 2.5 percent raise over the previous year, compared with a 4.7 percent raise between 2007 and 2008.
  • Educational charity CEOs earn as much as $90,000 more than those running religious charities.
  • The highest 2011 compensation was nearly $1.85 million for the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of America. The median pay in this charity category (human services) was $114,000.
  • Some charities compensate CEO relatives with salaries of more than $100,000 a year — sometimes higher than the CEO’s.
  • 6 percent of the studied charities (all of which are considered medium or large, having expenses of at least $3.5 million per year) have no set process for determining CEO pay.
  • “Charities tend to pay less than private sector firms for similar competencies. For example, the charities in our study pay a median total compensation of roughly $126,000, compared to median salaries at S&P 500 companies of $9.6 million in 2011.”

It’s important to choose charities with care — not just based on CEO pay, but on how they spend in general. Some spend a lot on overhead or advertising, and not so much on helping people. There’s also the risk of fraud. Check out the video below to see how easily it is to fall for a fake charity.

You can learn more about finding charities you can really get behind in our story, “4 Tips to Find the Right Charity.”

Stacy Johnson

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