New Compensation Report Provides Hard-to-Find Data for Small to Medium Sized Nonprofits

Boston, Mass., December 3, 2010 -- TSNE has released preliminary findings from Valuing Our Nonprofit Workforce 2010: A Compensation Survey of and for Nonprofits in Massachusetts and Adjoining Communities, providing, in many cases, a first glimpse at data on pay for staff at small to medium sized nonprofit organizations in the survey area.

TSNE worked with nonprofit and foundation partners from the region, including, to survey nonprofits from Massachusetts and communities bordering the state. More than 30,000 people are employed by the 202 nonprofits that completed the survey. Data collected was compiled on over 24,000 individual salaries and categorized into 131 job titles.

TSNE commissioned the survey in response to frequent requests from nonprofit executive directors, board members and consultants for compensation data relevant to staff and management positions at smaller nonprofit organizations. Prior to the release of Valuing Our Nonprofit Workforce, few of the salary surveys available in the targeted region were specific to small to medium sized nonprofit organizations with social service or social justice missions. Nor were the studies reflective of regional differences across Massachusetts.

“Median household income in Massachusetts was $64,081 in 2009, according to a September 2010 report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. However, the median income for a number of nonprofit staff and management positions cited in TSNE’s Valuing Our Nonprofit Workforce 2010 survey was far below this figure,” states TSNE Executive Director Jonathan Spack. “The survey finds that the average salary for junior level assistants and receptionists in the state’s nonprofit sector is just over $25,000. Organizers and preschool teachers average only $30,000. These are barely living wages. And even executive directors at nonprofits with budgets under $1 million dollars average only $60,000 annually.”

Adds Lyn Freundlich, director of administration and human resources at TSNE, “These people in our region are doing important work – holding the fabric of our communities together. As they tackle pressing issues, complicated by the economic downturn, we hope this study will help them make fair, informed, relevant compensation decisions, so they can retain a professional and motivated staff.”

The compensation survey distinguishes between organizations with differing missions. Some provide direct services; others address root causes of social injustice; and others work to raise funds to distribute to nonprofits. The survey also responds to requests for data that differentiates between fields of service and issues such as youth work, the environment and economic justice. And it includes other hard to find data about jobs that are specific to the nonprofit sector – positions that aren’t typically included in mainstream compensation reports such as organizers, advocates and campaign directors.

Some Findings

  • On average, male executive directors/CEOs earn significantly higher pay than their female counterparts. The average annual salary for all executive directors/CEOs in the sample is $107,256. For men, the average pay is $126,247, and for women, the average is $89,271. 
  • While a majority (54%) of all executive directors/CEOs in the sample are women, a relatively greater number of men are found in the executive directors/CEOs positions of the largest organizations, which tend to pay higher salaries.
  • Sixty-nine percent (69%) hold master’s degrees or doctorates.
  • Many participating nonprofits use more than one method to grant salary increases. Merit or performance pay was cited by 39%, cost of living by 35% and other practices by 10%.
  • However, only 58% of participating organizations have salary increases budgeted in their current fiscal year. This may be a reflection of continuing economic uncertainty.
  • Only 15 organizations (7%) reported that they have union contracts for one or more of their positions. The types of positions are varied, including professional and non-exempt ones.

TSNE helps fellow nonprofit organizations manage more effectively so they can better meet their mission to support strong, inclusive communities. TSNE is an effective capacity builder, fiscal sponsor, convener, trainer, consultant and grant maker.