Charity Navigator Releases 2016 CEO Compensation Report

Ever wondered what CEOs at nonprofits make? According to Charity Navigator’s 2016 Compensation Study, executives from America’s leading charities earned a median salary in the low to mid six figures. The study is based on 2014 tax information gathered from 4,587 charities.

Charities included in the study reported at least $500,000 in donations and more than $1,000,000 in total revenue from their two most recent years. As could be expected, there is a direct correlation between budget and compensation—the higher the budget, the higher the salary.

The study also found that the higher the charity’s total expenses were, the lower the CEO’s salary. But perhaps most fascinating is the differences in compensation as it relates to charity mission. Charities that specialize in research, for example, have the highest paid CEOs. Meanwhile, religious charities have the lowest paid CEOs.

But salaries also differed depending on the region. Charities located in America’s Northeast and Mid Atlantic region had the highest paid CEOs. Charities located in the Southwest had the lowest.

But although the average salary was set in the low to mid six figures, that’s not to say that there weren’t outliers. For example, a total of 10 charities rewarded their top executive with earnings of more than $1,000,000. However, all 10 of these charities had expenses that exceeded $13.5 million.

There were also 66 charities that paid their top executive $500,000 a year. These charities had annual expenses that ranged anywhere from $3.5 to $13.5 million.

Trends reveal that from 2008-2014, annual CEO compensation has been steadily rising. From 2013 to 2014 alone, there was a 3% increase in CEO compensation.

While Charity Navigator always encourages donors to research organizations before making a contribution, they also warn that a high-paid CEO isn’t necessarily a red flag. Instead, Charity Navigator advises donors to consider the compensation rate in relation to how successful the organization is and what their expenses are.