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Highlights of the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report

Highlights of the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation ReportThe 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report has arrived! The 17th edition in our annual series, the 2017 report remains the only large-scale nonprofit compensation analysis based entirely on IRS data. Like all of the previous editions, it was analyzed and written by GuideStar senior research fellow Chuck McLean.

Here are the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report basics:

  • Covers FY 2015
  • Derived from compensation data reported to the IRS by 96,669 nonprofits with annual revenues of $200,000 or more
  • Covers the entire 501(c) universe
  • Analysis drawn from data for 135,986 positions
  • Data for 14 job titles
  • Analysis by gender
  • Analysis by subject area (NTEE code)
  • Analysis by state
  • Analysis by metropolitan statistical area (MSA)
  • Analysis of change in incumbent compensation (based on 85,400 observations from 65,161 organizations)

You can view a sample report, which shows the first page from each section of the report.

Key Findings from This Year’s Compensation Report

  • CEO compensation increases approached pre-Great Recession levels for the first time in six years. Median increases were lower than those before the recession, but 2015 was the first year since 2008 that saw increases of 4 percent or more.
  • The proportion of female CEOs increased at nonprofits of all sizes. Gains were most dramatic at organizations with budgets between $25 million and $50 million, increasing from 20 percent in 2005 to 30 percent in 2015.
  • Median compensation of female nonprofit CEOs lagged behind that of their male counterparts. The gap ranged from 7 percent at organizations with budgets of $250 thousand or less to 21 percent at organizations with budgets of greater than $50 million.
  • Health and science organizations had the highest overall median salaries. Arts, religion, and animal-related organizations brought up the rear.

Closing Thoughts

Donors, the media, the general public, and even Congress continue to express outrage about “high nonprofit salaries.” They may be right in some cases, but many times, they’re expressing the same thinking that drives the Overhead Myth. Nonprofits can use the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report to show that their compensation practices are in line with their peers’. The report also meets IRS criteria for establishing “reasonable” compensation levels, thus protecting nonprofit leaders from intermediate sanctions.

Highlights of the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation ReportSuzanne Coffman is GuideStar’s editorial director.

Topics: GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report nonprofit compensation Executive Compensation