The paychecks of some nonprofit's top officials are often in
the same six-digit ballpark as a professional athlete's.
What comes to mind when you hear the term "nonprofit?" If
you're like many people, you associate it with words like
charity, volunteer, and poverty. For people unfamiliar with the
industry, nonprofit generally means "good work but no money."
What if we told you that it is possible to make a good living
while doing meaningful and rewarding work at the same time?
Unlike for-profit companies, nonprofit organizations exist to
fulfill a mission and address the needs of a specific
population, rather than earn a profit. Any money a nonprofit
earns--through donations, special events, and other
fundraising means--is immediately put back into the
operations and activities of the organization, including
Types of nonprofits include everything from charitable and
social service organizations like The United Way, to museums
and arts organizations, educational organizations, and
professional trade associations such as the American Medical
Association (AMA) and the National Football League (NFL).
Although entry-level salaries throughout the industry are
notoriously low, the financial outlook can get brighter with
time and experience. In fact, the paychecks of some
nonprofit's top officials are often in the same six-digit
ballpark as a professional athlete's.
According to a 1997 survey published by Abbott, Langer and
Associates, the highest paid Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)
in the industry make in excess of $300-$400,000! The typical
portrait of such a generously paid CEO is one who is head of
an international or national high-profile organization with
500+ employees, and an annual budget of at least $25,000,000.
The Other Half
While these salaries are impressive, it's important to keep
in mind that about three-quarters of nonprofit CEOs make
under $135,000, half make under $61,000, and one-quarter
under $42,000. Although many factors affect pay
rates--including the type of nonprofit, annual budget, part
of the country, and an employee's education and
experience--the general rule for compensation appears to be
that the larger and more prestigious the organization, the
higher the salaries. In addition to CEOs, Development and
Fundraising Directors can often make lucrative salaries,
especially those working in universities and hospitals. So
while we discourage the money-hungry from going down the
nonprofit path, we also dissuade humanitarians from shunning
nonprofit organizations for fear of meager salaries. Do what
you love and money will follow... but only in good time and
with lots of hard work.