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Are CEOs of Nonprofit Organizations Paid too Much?

Did you know that the CEO of Heifer International gets paid $236,881 a year? Or that the CEO of ACCION International makes $210,000? Neither did...


Did you know that the CEO of Heifer International gets paid $236,881 a year? Or that the CEO of ACCION International makes $210,000? Neither did Slate reader Lester, who sent a letter to the "My Goodness" column ("Advice on how to make the world better") asking if he should continue to donate to his favorite charities knowing that the CEOS make "offensive" amounts of money.The answer-both mine and the one given by the column's authors-is that nonprofit organizations, especially large ones, need to pay top dollar to get top talent. Just like any other important and impactful institution, the marketplace for effective leaders is a competitive one. And while the events of the past year have reminded us, once again, that a highly paid CEO doesn't always make for a successful company, the management of cumbersome organizations isn't a trivial task, and experience can pay off in a big way. And given that one of the primary responsibilities of CEOs in nonprofit organizations is fundraising, putting the right person in place can make all the difference in the world.A quick search of Charity Navigtor reveals that the average CEO salary for nonprofits is $148,972, which puts Heifer and ACCION in the "above average" column. But they're far from the top: the CEO of Johns Hopkins University weighs in at $1,579,820, the CEO of the Boy Scouts of America makes $589,143, and the CEO of the Nature Conservancy takes home $427,465. (Read the full report here.) My favorite report on that site is a list of the best-performing nonprofits with the lowest paid CEOs; that really is the sweet spot.Photo (cc) by Flickr user kevindooley.
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