Salaries Flat, Fundraisers Worry About Retirement

July 22, 2015       Paul Clolery      

Fundraisers’ salaries in the United States were flat in 2014 and half of respondents to a survey were concerned about their ability to retire when they’d like and to fund it.

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 2015 Compensation and Benefits Study, the average salary in the United States in 2014 was $75,913, a less than 1 percent increase from the 2013 average of $75,483. The median salary was the same for 2014 as for 2013: $65,000.

The top 25 percent of respondent fundraisers earn more than $89,000, and the bottom 25 percent earn $48,440 or less.

In Canada, the average was $82,666 with the median being $78,000. The top 25 percent earn more than $95,000 and the bottom 25 percent earn $57,000 or less.

“While we didn’t see any declines in salaries in 2014, we didn’t see any particular growth either,” said Andrew Watt, FInstF, president and CEO of AFP in Arlington, Va. “It’s safe to say the fundraising salary landscape strongly mirrors that of the current U.S. environment, and we’re not expecting to see any significant increases in the coming years.”

In both the U.S. and Canada, more than 70 percent of the respondents were female. But, male fundraisers in the United States reported an average salary of $94,821 in 2014 with women reportedly earning, on average, $70,366. With the exception of 2005 when the salary gap diminished slightly, the gap in the U.S. has consistently been $20,000 or more during the 14 years in which the survey has been conducted. In Canada, the difference is roughly $20,000 — $100,799 male versus $80,135 female.

Some 2,051 AFP members (1,773 United States and 287 Canadian) submitted usable responses, a response rate of 7.6 percent for the United States and 9.1 percent for Canada.

Insufficient staff personnel, leaders who don’t appreciate fundraising, and competition from other assigned duties were the three situations respondents reported as most problematic in doing their professional work.

The top two reasons respondent fundraisers chose their current position was “more opportunity/scope” (26 percent) and the “opportunity to do more meaningful work” (25 percent). No other reason was chosen by more than 9 percent of respondents.

Reaching goals won’t help the paycheck. Some 65 percent strongly disagreed, disagreed, or were neutral to the statement “reaching my performance goals boosts my pay raise chances.”

The average U.S. respondent has held 3.4 fundraising positions during their career.  The average number of years per employer (turnover rate) is 4.1, the same as it was in last year’s survey. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they have thought about leaving their jobs in the last year, however, when asked whether they looked for a job with another employer in the last 12 months, only 47 percent of United States respondents and 44 percent of Canadian respondents said yes. About half plan to serve in their present position indefinitely.

Half of respondents were either “not at all confident” or “not too confident” they will be able to retire when they want to do so and 51 percent responded in the same way to whether they’ll have a comfortable retirement.

Fewer than half (47 percent) of U.S. fundraisers and 56 percent of Canadians feel somewhat or very confident they will have enough money for a comfortable retirement. Slightly more than 40 percent overall feel somewhat or very confident their resources will cover their retirement years, and 36 percent of U.S. and 53 percent of Canadians feel somewhat or very confident their retirement funds will cover their medical expenses.

Other points of interest in the survey results were:

  • There is a strong correlation between years of experience and compensation.  Fundraisers in the U.S. with less than 10 years of experience reported average salary ranges of $48,628 to $70,007. Those with 10-24 years of experience reported a range of $79,969 to $105,256. Those with 25 or more years of experience reported ranges of $118,103 to $123,365.
  • In both the United States and Canada, the top three fields or backgrounds from which fundraisers come to the profession are public relations/marketing (16 percent), school/student (15 percent), education (10 percent), and business (10 percent).
  • The average U.S. respondent has held 3.4 fundraising positions in his/her career.  In Canada, the average is 3.3 positions.
  • Within the six regions of the United States, average salaries for all survey respondents ranged from $70,825 in the Southwest area to $83,194 in the Northeast region.
  • Some 43 percent of U.S. and 42 percent of Canadian respondents have taken continuing education programs or graduate courses (certificate, master’s, Ph.D.) related to fundraising, nonprofit management or philanthropy at a college or university.  Ten percent of all respondents plan to take courses in the future.
  • Fundraisers working in international and national organizations reported average salaries greater than those affiliated with local or state/regional entities.
  • Expected strong positive correlations were noted between average compensation and the size of an organization’s budget and the amount of funds raised.
  • There was also a strong positive correlation between average compensation and level of education. Those who reported holding a law degree had the highest average compensation at $107,361. The possession of a certification credential correlates positively with salary. In the United States sample, Certified Fundraising Executives (CFREs) reported average salaries nearly $30,000 more than the average for respondents with no professional certification. Those who hold the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) certificate reported average salaries $59,000 higher than non-credentialed individuals.

For more information, go to www.afpnet.org