Salaries of Nonprofit Organization Directors

Mary Gormandy White
Nonprofit Executive

Are you looking for information about salaries of nonprofit organization directors? Compensation for individuals who hold director level positions in the nonprofit sector varies based on a number of factors. For example, major national or international organizations often offer higher compensation for directors than smaller charitable entities. Additionally, pay can vary greatly based on level of responsibility. Executive Directors are generally more highly compensated than individuals who hold function-specific directorships, such as Human Resource Directors or Development Directors.

Understanding Salaries of Nonprofit Organization Directors

While there is often a perception that people who work in the nonprofit arena earn significantly lower salaries than their counterparts in the private sector, this is not always the case. Some nonprofit executive positions are highly compensated jobs. Of course, along with the benefit of favorable compensation comes the responsibility of holding an important position with a significant amount of responsibility for operations, meeting service needs, fundraising and more.

Median Wages of Nonprofit Executives

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a publication of the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the median hourly rates of pay for top level managers in nonprofit organizations could be broken out as follows in 2008:

  • Grant Making/Giving Services: $47.82 per hour (equal to an annual salary of more than $99,400 per year)
  • Social Advocacy Entities: $37.37 per hour (equal to an annual salary of more than $77,000 per year)
  • Civic/Social Organizations: $33.86 per hour (equal to an annual salary of over $70,000 per year)

For similar positions across all industries, including for profit and nonprofit sector employers, the overall median hourly wage is $44.02, which translates into an annual salary of just over $91,000 per year. These statistics indicate that, while some individuals who work in the nonprofit sector may earn less than those employed in for-profit entities, this is not always the case.

It's important to note that median wages do not represent an arithmetic average. The median wage number represents the physical midpoint of data collected for the 2008 Occupational Outlook Handbook report. This means that, within the sample studies, there are an equal number of people earning wages higher and lower than those reported, regardless of the spread from highest to lowest pay.

Finding Compensation for Particular Organizations

If you are interested in finding out about salaries of nonprofit organization directors for specific charities, you can get the information that you are seeking from Charity Navigator's website. Charity Navigator is a well-known organization that ranks charitable entities on a variety of factors so that donors can make wise decision about where to allocate their philanthropic dollars. The organization compiles and publishes a great deal of information about the organizations that it vets, including compensation for key executives.

To find what you are looking for, simply visit the CharityNavigator.org and search for the particular organization you want to learn about. Alternately, you can search for several organizations or look up the various organizations one of the "top ten lists" compiled by Charity Navigator to get a more general overview of compensation for executive within the nonprofit sector.

Using Nonprofit Director Salary Information

Whether you are researching salaries of nonprofit directors to aid in your own job search or if you are seeking information about where compensation should be set for those who manage a charitable organization that you are involved with, it's important to realize that there are significant pay variations within the field.

Looking at median wage numbers can be very helpful, as can reviewing data for particular organizations that are similar to the one where you are applying to work or are involved in making executive compensation decisions. However, make sure that you are comparing "apples to apples" when reviewing data.

A local environmental protection organization, for example, will not be able to offer its directors compensation that is equivalent to a national organization like the American Red Cross or the United Way. Those who run local or regional offices for national nonprofits will not be compensated as highly as those who have executive decision making responsibility for the overall organization.

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Salaries of Nonprofit Organization Directors