by Jan Masaoka
Nonprofit board members are often puzzled when it comes to setting the salary of the executive director. On one hand, we want to keep our talented staff; on the other hand, we know the budget is tight. Some legal and practical guidelines:
It’s maddening and ironic that the press focuses on the extremely rare cases of high salaries for nonprofit executives, when salaries in nonprofits are typically 20% – 40% less than their counterparts in foundations, local government, and the business sector. Mistaken public perception that nonprofit salaries are high has even led to New Jersey now limiting the amount of state funds that can be spent on nonprofit executive salaries.
“Under $50,000, people aren’t going to move,” says Karen Beavor of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, publisher of the online nonprofit jobs site Opportunity Knocks. “But any search at $100K, $150K is recruiting from a national pool. Look at a number of surveys, including both national and local.”
As part of preventing “excess compensation,” U.S. federal law (Prop. Regs. Sec. 53.4958-4) notes that nonprofits should pay “reasonable compensation,” defined as “an amount as would ordinarily be paid for like services by like enterprises under like circumstances.” Not exactly the clearest statement. Regrettably, it’s not hard to find law firms that always seem able to discover that the proposed compensation fits these imprecise guidelines. We know one nonprofit with five staff that pays its CEO $375,000 . . . blessed by an expensive legal report.
$2.5 million, excess compensation hardly seems like the biggest problem.
Men still get paid more at the same size organization (surprised?)
More disturbing than generally low salaries are the gender differences in salary. Despite the predominance of women in nonprofit executive positions around the country, male executives…READ MORE.