Non-Profit CEOs Deserve Competitive Pay Too

A recent survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy points out that, although CEO pay is essentially just keeping up with inflation, some of the highest earners routinely make more than $1 million.

Nationally, the Chronicle reports, executive pay at the nation’s largest non-profits increased by a median of 3.8 percent in 2011, “and some experts say that might be the best that charity leaders can hope for in the near future.” The median compensation for top executives at the 132 charities and foundations that reported their 2011 salaries was $429,512. The top earners were:

•Roxanne Spillett, head of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, who made more than $1.8 million.

•Glenn Lowry, chief executive of the Museum of Modern Art, who earned $1.2 million.

•Edwin Feulner Jr., leader of the Heritage Foundation, who was paid nearly $1.1 million.

Given the nature of their work, executives at non-profits are even more subject to public scrutiny than executives at profit-making companies. That means when they’re negotiating for their compensation packages, they should ensure that their pay is both competitive and based on measurable outcomes.

But there’s a valid argument to be made that philanthropic organizations need the most talented individuals the market can bear, and that their compensation should reflect that. Just about any high-ranking executive at a top non-profit can probably make far more money in the “regular” business world, so they’re already taking less than they, in the strictest terms, are worth.

When it comes time to negotiate a compensation package, every executive needs a qualified executive employment lawyer by his or her side. There’s just too much at stake to do otherwise.

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