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Highlights of the 2007 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report

The 2007 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report is based on 102,414 observations from 56,228 Forms 990 filed by 501(c) organizations with the IRS for fiscal year 2005. Among the highlights:

  • Median compensation of females continued to lag behind that of males when considering comparable positions at similar organizations.
  • Females held 50 percent of CEO positions at organizations with expenses of $1 million or less but only 34 percent at organizations with expenses of greater than $1 million. Overall, women held 41 percent of the positions reported upon but received only 32 percent of the total compensation.
  • As has been the case in the past few years, female CEOs at larger organizations are making slow but steady progress at closing the gender gap when it comes to compensation. Incumbent female CEOs at organizations with expenses of $25 million or greater had a higher median compensation increase from 2004 to 2005 than males. Results are mixed for smaller organizations.
  • The larger the organization, the larger the increases in compensation. For example, CEOs at organizations with budgets between $500 thousand and $1 million saw a median increase of 4.1 percent from 2004 to 2005, whereas those at organizations with budgets of greater than $50 million had a median increase of 7.3 percent.
  • Not surprisingly, health and science organizations had the highest overall median salaries. Food, religion, and housing organizations brought up the rear.
  • Washington, D.C., had the highest overall median salaries of the 20 largest metropolitan statistical areas; Riverside-San Bernardino, California, had the lowest.
Each of these topics is explored in more detail below.


As in past reports, women's compensation lagged behind that of men. The difference in compensation ranged from 17.4 percent at organizations between $500 thousand and $1 million in size to 25.2 percent at organizations larger than $50 million.

Median percentage increases in compensation for incumbent female CEOs were generally larger than those received by males from 2004 to 2005.

Median Increase in Incumbent CEO Compensation by Gender, 2004-2005

Budget Size Females Males
Greater than $50 million 8.4% 7.1%
Between $25 million and $50 million 6.7% 5.5%
Between $10 million and $25 million 5.0% 4.8%
Between $5 million and $10 million 4.9% 4.6%
Between $2.5 million and $5 million 4.3% 4.3%
Between $1 million and $2.5 million 4.2% 4.2%
Between $500 thousand and $1 million 4.3% 3.8%
Between $250 thousand and $500 thousand 4.3% 2.9%
$250 thousand or less 1.8% 2.8%

Generally, women made gains in their share of top positions at nonprofits of most sizes between 2001 and 2005. Progress was particularly pronounced at the CEO position for very large organizations. Interestingly, at the smallest organizations, men made began to make gains at most positions, although these organizations are still dominated by women executives.


Budget Size

It is certainly expected that holders of top positions at larger organizations would be compensated more highly. Incumbents, however, generally also received higher raises in 2005 compared to 2004 than did their counterparts at smaller organizations.

This phenomenon was more pronounced for CEOs than for other positions in the report.

Program Area

Not surprisingly, program areas that tend to be associated with specialized knowledge and large organizations led the way in median compensation.

Five Program Areas with Highest Overall Median Compensation, 2005

Program Area Median Compensation
Science and Technology Research Institutes, Services $125,947
Health—General and Rehabilitative $117,459
Medical Research $112,914
Social Science Research Institutes, Services $110,513
Mutual/Membership Benefit $109,667

Five Program Areas with Lowest Overall Median Compensation, 2005

Program Area Median Compensation
Religion $67,021
Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition $67,274
Housing, Shelter $73,399
Animal Related $74,975
Youth Development $75,000


The Washington, D.C., metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the highest overall median compensation. This is not surprising, given the high concentration of national organizations headquartered there and the relatively high cost of living. The chart below shows actual median compensation for the 20 largest MSAs and then converts the values by comparing the local cost of living to that of Washington, D.C. So, for example, someone making $84,885 in Phoenix has approximately the buying power of someone making $111,199 in Washington, D.C.

Overall Median Compensation for the Twenty Largest MSAs, 2005

Metropolitan Statistical Area Median Compensation Adjusted for D.C. Cost of Living
Washington, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W. Va. $115,800 $115,800
New York, N.Y. $110,825 $88,660
Chicago, Ill. $102,351 $125,892
Boston, Mass.-N.H. $101,539 $98,493
Philadelphia, Pa.-N.J. $98,648 $130,215
Baltimore, Md. $98,430 $125,990
San Diego, Calif. $95,958 $76,766
Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA $95,000 $88,350
Detroit, Mich. $94,136 $140,263
Atlanta, Ga. $91,704 $142,141
Miami, Fla. $91,532 $97,939
San Francisco, Calif. $89,665 $61,869
Dallas, Tex. $87,765 $137,791
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. $87,471 $122,459
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. $86,894 $139,899
Houston, Tex. $85,910 $139,174
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. $85,235 $100,577
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.-Wis. $84,948 $105,335
Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz. $84,885 $111,199
Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. $84,000 $89,040

Chuck McLean, September 2007
© 2007, Philanthropic Research, Inc. (GuideStar)

Chuck McLean is GuideStar's vice president for research and data quality.
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