About Nonprofit Salaries: A Quick Peek and a Question

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November 28, MinnesotaNonprofits.org

The following graph appears in the 2014 edition of Minnesota Nonprofit Salary and Benefits Survey. We wanted to share it with you in advance of some work we want to do on nonprofit compensation ratios—that is, the fairness of the pay ranges in individual nonprofit organizations. Compensation ratios are, of course, generally brought up in relation to large for-profit corporations, but problems with differentials between the highest and lowest paid nonprofit workers in some organizations have also emerged as an issue over this past year. 


Here is our question: Do you know of areas where we may wish to focus this inquiry? Groups or types of groups where ratios are more skewed? Help us consider the questions.

Our hope is to work with other groups on this issue over the next year, most notably the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).—Ruth McCambridge


  • lynn eakin

    Here in Ontario we are promoting the use of wagemark certification 8:1 ratio https://www.wagemark.org/.
    we also are embarking on project to promote the sector to be a decent work sector – to live our values. that project is in very early days. will keep you posted as we progress…

  • Kevin Murphy

    The two most obvious places to look are higher education and medical systems. That’s where I think you’ll find the highest gaps. To be kind, you may want to disregard the football coach’s salaries in your analysis.

  • Gayle Gifford, ACFRE

    I would also look at large social service organizations that have group homes. I think you’ll find big disparities in that sector.

  • Pete Wilke

    Need to look at the size of the non-profit to get a feel for the salary data:
    –size of budget
    –size of revenues
    –size of programs
    –size of assets
    –number of employees

  • Julie Rodda, Rodda Consulting


    It appears from the graph that nearly 50% (46% +/-) make $30,000 or significantly less.
    Although alarming, it may simply represent all salaries (FSLA exempt) rather than all professional salaries.

    Because I have long consulted with faith-based npo’s, I would hazard to guess the greatest discrepancy in wages
    exist between faith-based organizations and their community-based counterparts. It would be interesting to see actual numerical comparisons to validate what is currently a strong hunch.

    The other comparisons would be rural nonprofit agencies vs. metropolitan counterparts, which gives a nod to
    NPQ’s recent articles about the continued struggles in rural America.

  • Lindsay

    I think it’s also important to look at regular run-of-the-mill nonprofit organizations like community organizations and mid-size groups, so that you aren’t ONLY looking at companies with big gaps but also looking at all sized organizations to see IF gaps exist. It isn’t representative if it only represents huge orgs with disparities – all that is doing is picking and choosing organizations to prove a point which is not representative of the whole!

  • Stacy

    I would also recommend that you look into behavioral health organizations. Another would be homeless providers.