Nonprofit CEO compensation on the rise, but female CEO pay still lags

A transparency group finds that things are looking up for nonprofit CEOs after a postrecession slump.

Things are looking up for nonprofit CEOs after a postrecession slump. Compensation for CEOs at nonprofits saw a year-over-year increase of more than 4% in 2015—a six-year high—according to a report released last week by nonprofit transparency group GuideStar.

Among other findings in the group’s 17th annual report, the number of female CEOs at nonprofits has increased. For organizations with $25 million to $50 million budgets, the proportion of female CEOs grew from 20% to 30% over the course of 10 years.

But other gender-based findings from the report weren’t as sunny. The median compensation of female nonprofit CEOs still lags male nonprofit CEOs, with the gap larger at nonprofits with the biggest budgets. Organizations managing more than $50 million paid female CEOs 21% less than male CEOs, and organizations with budgets of $250,000 or less paid female CEOs 7% less than their male counterparts.

Those gaps actually lessened compared to last year’s report, which used 2014 data. The wage gap for nonprofits at the $50 million or greater level was 23% then, two percentage points higher, and 8% for nonprofits in the $250,000 or less tier, or one percentage point higher.

Fast Company reports that while 75% of the nonprofit field is female, only 45% make it to CEO. The publication also points out that the GuideStar data indicates more pay equity among the rank and file at female-led organizations as well.

If a woman is paid less early in her career she may also command less as she advances, but Fast Company notes that nonprofits with women CEOs are more likely to pay everyone the same based on a job description rather than basing salary on a prior position.

So, who were the biggest winners in GuideStar’s report? The groups said health and science organizations had the highest overall median salaries.

Brockton, Massachusetts publication The Enterprise reported that CEOs at two local nonprofit hospitals easily topped $1 million in fiscal 2015. For example, Richard Aubut, who has since retired from his position as CEO of Weymouth’s South Shore Hospital, saw a salary of $1.3 million in 2015. A hospital spokeswoman told the publication that Aubut brought home a total of $2.7 million in 2016, when combining salary, benefits and his retirement package.

She added that CEO salary at the nonprofit hospital is based on performance and industry benchmarks.