Small Organization Execs Gets Large Percentage Hikes

March 12, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Compensation for the chief executive officer (CEO) at the nation’s smallest nonprofits might lack a digit when compared to the largest nonprofits. But, bosses at smaller organizations have seen their paychecks grow more by percentage during the past several years.

Compensation for CEOs at smaller nonprofits seemed to improve more than at larger organizations between 2010 and 2013, according the past four editions of the Nonprofit Organizations Salary & Benefits Report by The NonProfit Times and Bluewater Nonprofit Solutions.

Organizations with operating budgets of less than $500,000 reported average total compensation of $60,455 in 2013, up almost 16 percent from 2010 and 7 percent greater than the four-year average (2010-2013) of $55,932. When looking at nonprofits by the size of operating budget, most of the CEO salaries remained flat or declined slightly when comparing the four-year average to the reported 2010 compensation levels.

The smallest differential between the four-year average and 2010 was 0.6 percent, at $1 million to $2.5 million organizations, the only range that saw a less than 1 percent difference. Most categories were up significantly, at least 6 to 9 percent, between 2010 and 2013, with the exception of $5 million to $10 million organizations, where CEOs saw a 3.3-percent difference.

The four-year average for total cash compensation by a CEO approached six figures at the $1 million to $2.5 million level ($99,547) and surpassed it once the budget was greater than $2.5 million ($121,573). All organizations in the categories of at least $5 million operating budgets reported average compensation of more than $150,000, and $25-million-plus reported more than $200,000.

By subsector, CEOs at arts and culture organizations appear to have taken the biggest hits in the years after the recession. Average total compensation dropped from $114,725 in 2010 to $99,988 in 2013, a decline of almost 13 percent.

The four-year average dipped below $100,000, to $99,178, nearly 14 percent lower than the 2010 average. On the other side of the spectrum, average compensation for CEOs at religion-related organizations crept into the six figures, from a low of $89,112 in 2010 to $106,634 in 2012, up almost 20 percent. The four-year average of $101,670 was more than 14 percent greater than the 2010 average, and narrowed the gap considerably with arts organizations.

Religion was one of the bright spots for CEO compensation when compared to other subsectors. The only others that reported average increases during the past three years was human services (international and foreign affairs did as well but a smaller sample skewed averages considerably, as did the subsector labeled unknown). Human services CEO compensation enjoyed 12-percent growth from 2010 to 2013, with the four-year average of $108,168 — almost 4 percent more than the $104,092 average compensation in 2010.

The overall average CEO compensation declined between 2010 and 2012, from a high of $115,065, but rebounded last year, back up to $122,286. The four-year average of $114,544 was down just slightly, about 0.5 percent, from the 2010’s overall average.

Last year, the average salary for most nonprofit executives in general was consistently greater than the overall average in the Northeast, South Central and Northwest, according to the study. The lowest average base salary for a CEO last year was founded in the Southwest ($106,238) while the Southeast ($114,044) and North Central ($116,314) were more than that but slightly less than the overall average ($118,630).