Nonprofit CEO Compensation Increases Approached Pre-Recession Levels in 2016, New GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report Reveals

Although narrowing, gender gap in CEO compensation persisted

Washington, DC,

Washington, DC, Sept. 24, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the second consecutive year, nonprofit CEOs received compensation increases approaching pre-Great Recession levels in FY 2016, according to the 2018 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report.  Released today, the report is the 18th edition in GuideStar’s annual series. It remains the only large-scale nonprofit compensation analysis based entirely on IRS data.

 “The median increase in compensation of incumbent CEOs was lower in 2016 for the lower budget bands and higher in the upper budget bands compared to 2015,” noted Holly C.S. Ivel, GuideStar’s director of data services and author of the 2018 report.  “Nevertheless, 2016 was only the second year since the recession in which we saw increases of 4 percent or more. In all but the highest two budget bands, women received larger increases than men.”

Median Increase in Incumbent CEO Compensation by Gender

Budget Size 2014-2015 2015-2016
Females Males Females Males
$250 thousand or less 4.2% 4.4% 1.3% 0.0%
Between $250 thousand and $500 thousand 4.3% 4.7% 2.5% 1.6%
Between $500 thousand and $1 million 4.0% 3.8% 2.8% 2.3%
Between $1 million and $2.5 million 3.3% 3.6% 2.9% 2.5%
Between $2.5 million and $5 million 3.5% 3.2% 3.1% 2.9%
Between $5 million and $10 million 3.0% 2.8% 3.3% 3.2%
Between $10 million and $25 million 2.9% 2.4% 3.9% 3.4%
Between $25 million and $50 million 2.5% 2.0% 4.3% 4.4%
Greater than $50 million 1.5% 0.4% 4.0% 4.2%

In addition to changes in compensation, the 2018 report analyzes FY 2016 compensation by gender, mission type, state, and metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Other findings from the report include:

  • Median compensation of female nonprofit CEOs continued to lag behind that of their male counterparts in FY 2016, although the gap has narrowed over the years. In 2016, the gap ranged from 4 percent at organizations with budgets of $250 thousand or less to 20 percent at organizations with budgets of greater than $50 million. The gap narrowed most at mid-size organizations, i.e., those with budgets between $2.5 million and $25 million.
  • Science and health organizations had the highest overall median salaries. Religion and animal-related organizations brought up the rear.
  • Dedicated human resources and information technology positions appear to emerge as organizations get larger.

The 2018 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report analyzes compensation data reported to the IRS for fiscal year 2016 by 112,609 nonprofits. Organizations are instructed to supply compensation information for all officers, directors, trustees, and up to 20 key employees who earn at least $150,000. Additionally, information is required for certain other employees who earn at least $100,000. The 2018 report contains data on 159,114 individual positions. Incumbent compensation data, from which the change in compensation was calculated, was available for 91,337 positions at 69,520 nonprofits.

To learn more about the 2018 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report, visit To request a media copy of the report, contact Jackie Enterline Fekeci at

About GuideStar

GuideStar,, helps people make better decisions about nonprofits and the work they do. Each year, more than 9 million donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and journalists use GuideStar data to make intelligent decisions about the social sector. GuideStar maintains profiles on 2.7 million currently and formerly IRS-recognized nonprofits. The profiles are populated with information from the IRS, directly from nonprofits, and via other partners in the nonprofit sector. In addition, users see GuideStar data on more than 200 philanthropic websites and applications. GuideStar is itself a 501(c)(3) public charity.


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