Highlights of 2002 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report

Release date: August 12, 2002
Note: For tables of figures related to this release, go to "Highlights of the 2002 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report."

The recently published 2002 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report shows that gender, type of organization, and location all affected compensation for nonprofit heads in fiscal year 2000.

GuideStar's second annual analysis of nonprofit compensation draws exclusively on fiscal year 2000 Form 990 data from more than 65,600 public charities. It examines compensation by gender, 14 job categories, 9 budget categories, 378 program categories, state, and metropolitan statistical area. The report is available in national, regional, state, and local editions.


As was the case in last year's report, which covered fiscal years 1998 and 1999, women generally earned significantly less than men. Overall, males had median compensation of $74,609, or 31.2 percent more than the median for females ($56,885). In all job categories, median compensation of males exceeded that of females.

To some degree, this disparity can be explained by the difference in the size of organizations at which men and women work. Of the 34,857 females in the report, 48.0 percent worked at organizations with budgets of $1 million or less, whereas only 32.1 percent of males worked at nonprofits of that size. On the high end, 22.9 percent of the females worked at organizations with budgets greater than $5 million, versus 38.5 percent of males. Even when controlling for the size of organization, however, women still earned less. As the table below shows, male CEOs at every budget level out-earned their female counterparts in FY 2000.

Generally, male CEOs also earned more regardless of organization type. In the 114 program/budget categories with sufficient numbers of both genders to make meaningful comparisons, women earned more than men in only 11 categories. In K-12 education organizations with budgets of $250,000 to $500,000, the median compensation for women CEOs was 17.1 percent higher than that for men, the largest disparity in favor of women. The largest difference in favor of males was in hospitals with budgets greater than $50 million, where the median for males was 63.1 percent higher.

Organization Type

Compensation at health-care organizations and higher education institutions was higher than that in the rest of the charitable sector. According to the May 2002 IRS Business Master File, 179 of the 200 largest tax-exempt organizations (measured by revenue) fall into one of those two categories.

Median compensation was comparatively low in most human services organizations, ranking in the bottom 20 percent for each budget category. Housing and shelter organizations also ranked low.


There were sometimes large regional differences in CEO compensation. Salaries paid to CEOs of Mideast and New England nonprofits were highest for every budget size, with compensation in the Plains and Rocky Mountains regions typically the lowest. For example, the median compensation of CEOs at Mideast organizations with budgets of greater than $5 million was 25.7 percent higher than that of CEOs in the Plains region, and 18.1 percent higher than that of CEOs in the Rocky Mountains region.

These figures do not necessarily mean that CEOs in the Plains or Rocky Mountains regions were underpaid. Some of the most expensive places to live in the United States are in the Mideast and New England regions. For example, 46.3 percent of the 13,599 CEOs in the Mideast work in New York, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C., all of which have a cost of living well above the national average. In contrast, 46.0 percent of the 2,316 CEOs in the Rocky Mountains region work in Denver, Colorado Springs, or Salt Lake City, where the cost of living is closer to the national average.

Mideast and New England CEOs usually didn't fare as well as those in less expensive areas when salaries were adjusted to take cost of living into account. CEOs in the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area, whose raw median compensation exceeds all areas in the nation other than Washington, D.C., have the lowest median compensation when adjusted for cost of living. Conversely, CEOs in some areas with a lower raw median compensation do comparatively well when cost of living factors are considered. These differences can be quite dramatic. For example, the median compensation for CEOs of Denver nonprofits with budgets between $1 million and $5 million was 12.8 percent less than the median in New York City. When adjusted for cost of living, however, the median compensation in Denver was 69.9 percent higher.

About GuideStar

GuideStar is the operating name and registered trademark of Philanthropic Research, Inc., a 501(c)(3) public charity located in Williamsburg, Virginia. GuideStar's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice with information. To that end, GuideStar has created and is constantly updating a database of information on all IRS-recognized 501(c) nonprofit organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. The GuideStar database currently comprises information on 1.7 million nonprofit organizations. Basic program and financial data about these organizations are available for free on the GuideStar Web site, www.guidestar.org.

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