Nonprofit CEO Compensation Increases Approached Pre-Recession Levels in 2015, New GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report Reveals

Release date: September 12, 2017

Nonprofit CEO Compensation Increases Approached Pre-Recession Levels in 2015, New GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report RevealsGender gap in CEO compensation persisted

GuideStar’s 2017 Nonprofit Compensation Report shows that CEO compensation increases approached pre-Great Recession level for the first time in six years in FY 2015. Released today, the report is the 17th edition in GuideStar’s annual series, and remains the only large-scale nonprofit compensation analysis based entirely on IRS data.

“In seven out of eight budget categories, nonprofit CEO compensation grew more in 2015 than in 2014,” stated GuideStar senior research fellow Chuck McLean, creator of the Compensation Report and author of all 17 editions. “Although median increases are still lower than observed before the recession, 2015 was the first year since 2008 in which we saw increases of 4 percent or more.”

Median Increase in Incumbent CEO Compensation by Gender, 2014-2015
Budget Size Females Males
Greater than $50 million 4.2% 4.4%
Between $25 million and $50 million 4.3% 4.7%
Between $10 million and $25 million 4.0% 3.8%
Between $5 million and $10 million 3.3% 3.6%
Between $2.5 million and $5 million 3.5% 3.2%
Between $1 million and $2.5 million 3.0% 2.8%
Between $500 thousand and $1 million 2.9% 2.4%
Between $250 thousand and $500 thousand 2.5% 2.0%
$250 thousand or less 1.5% 0.4%

The 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report analyzes compensation data reported to the IRS for fiscal year 2015 by 96,669 nonprofits with annual revenues of $200,000 or more. 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 2017 report contains data on 135,986 individual positions. Incumbent compensation data, from which the change in compensation was calculated, was available for 85,400 positions at 65,161 nonprofits.

In addition to changes in compensation, the 2017 report analyzes FY 2015 compensation by gender, mission type, state, and metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Other findings from the report include:

  • The proportion of female CEOs increased at nonprofits of all sizes again this year as it has every year since 2005. Gains were most dramatic at organizations with budgets between $25 million and $50 million, increasing from 20 percent to 30 percent.
  • Median compensation of female nonprofit CEOs lagged behind that of their male counterparts again this year as it has every year since 2005. The gap in FY 2015 ranged from 7 percent at organizations with budgets of $250 thousand or less to 21 percent at organizations with budgets of greater than $50 million.
  • Health and science organizations had the highest overall median salaries. Arts, religion, and animal-related organizations brought up the rear.

To learn more about the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report, visit To request a media copy of the report, contact Jackie Enterline Fekeci at

About GuideStar

GuideStar,, is the world’s largest source of nonprofit information, connecting people and organizations with data on 2.6 million current and formerly IRS-recognized nonprofits. Each year, more than 8 million people, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media, use GuideStar data to make intelligent decisions about the social sector. GuideStar Nonprofit 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.

Media Contact

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