October 2, 2006
In the process of evaluating thousands of charities, Charity Navigator has collected a wealth of data on CEO salaries. Our analysts have examined tens of thousands of nonprofit financial documents, giving us an exclusive insight into the real-world financial practices of America's largest charities.
Average CEO Pay
According to our analysis, the average CEO's compensation (for the 5054 charities in our database as of September 2006) is $141,947. This figure, based on each charity's most recently filed Form 990, includes salary, cash bonuses, and unusually large expense accounts, but not contributions to benefit plans or deferred compensation. To put it in perspective, the average charity's CEO's salary makes up about 3.4% of the organization's spending. This isn't outrageous when you consider that these are multi-million dollar operations. Leading one of these charities requires an individual that possesses both an understanding of the issues that are unique to the charity's mission as well as business and management expertise similar to that required of for-profit CEOs. Attracting and retaining that type of talent requires a certain level of compensation - roughly $140,000 according to our analysis."