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Bursting at the seams: Candid’s largest nonprofit compensation report yet  

Three people looking at a man drawing a line chart.

Last week Candid hit a milestone, launching our biggest, most robust nonprofit compensation report yet. Featuring 40% more compensation data compared to last year’s report on 14 top leadership positions—including CEO, CFO, and more. Trusted for decades, the 2023 Nonprofit Compensation Report provides the facts you’ll need to stay IRS compliant and competitive when making key salary decisions. 

Drawn exclusively from data reported on IRS Forms 990 and 990-EZ, our annual report provides in-depth information and insights on executive compensation from over 123,000 tax-exempt organizations for fiscal year 2021. Candid’s team also added 21 new metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) to the report this year to allow for greater geographic comparisons.   

Before we dig into a few of the report’s key takeaways, let’s pause to explain where all this additional information came from. Following frustrating pandemic-related delays, the IRS released around a million Form 990 files in May 2023, providing crucial data to offer a more complete picture of nonprofit compensation. Our data and technology teams at Candid acted quickly to process this massive influx of data to make it available in our offerings—like the report—that the sector relies on. This allowed us to produce the most complete analysis of fiscal year 2021 and illuminate the continued impact that 2020 had on the sector.  

Here we share some key findings from this year’s report, which includes over 5,000 pages of compensation data across all nonprofit subject areas.  

Median executive compensation is rising

Median compensation for nonprofit CEOs increased for all budget bands from 2020 to 2021, continuing to grow steadily over the last five years. However, organizations in the highest budget band (>$50M), saw a decrease of -0.9%. 

Bar graph showing YoY percentage change in nonprofit compensation for executives from 2019 to 2021

Like previous years, the highest median executive compensation is still in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)- and health-related subject areas, while religious institutions continue to have the lowest median compensation. Additionally, compensation in fields like arts and culture and mental health decreased or remained stagnant, while compensation in public safety and health grew the fastest in 2021. 

Location also remains a key factor when it comes to median executive compensation. Nonprofit organizations in the Midwest have the lowest median executive compensation compared to all other U.S. regions. Organizations located in the Northeast have the highest— with District of Columbia being the state with the highest median compensation overall.  

The gender pay gap is decliningslowly

The gender pay gap has been slowly declining overall with female CEOs gaining 6 cents to the dollar since 2011. Still, the median compensation of female CEOs was lower than that of male CEOs at nonprofit organizations of all sizes—with females making 73 cents for every dollar a male makes. 

From 2011 to 2021, the percentage of female CEOs has grown in all budget groups. However, female representation in executive leadership roles declines as organization size increases, and the pay gap is more significant at organizations with higher budgets. Although women represent the majority of CEOs at smaller organizations, they represent less than one-third of CEOs at organizations in the largest budget band (>$50M). 

Bar chart showing the nonprofit compensation gap for female executives compared to their male counterparts from 2011 to 2021

These are just a few highlights from a report rich with key data and details. With reliable and accurate information on nonprofit compensation, this report is crucial for benchmarking and compliance, allowing organizations to ensure they’re offering competitive compensation while staying compliant with IRS requirements. Learn more about Candid’s 2023 Nonprofit Compensation Report by visiting this webpage and downloading a sample report.  


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  • George Willstone says:

    October 10, 2023 2:14 am

    It's impressive to see Candid's dedication to providing valuable insights in their largest nonprofit compensation report yet. This kind of comprehensive data is invaluable for nonprofits striving to make a meaningful impact. Kudos to Candid for their commitment to transparency and progress! 📊🌟 #NonprofitInsights #CandidReport
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  • Corey Whiteside says:

    September 28, 2023 5:54 pm

    I'm grateful for the catching up on the data, but 2021 fiscal years results seem already outdated by labor market inflationary pressures. What would have been helpful in this report is to have incorporated that in a pro-forma or other informational manner.

  • Carrie says:

    September 28, 2023 2:31 pm

    As far as CEO pay for nonprofits, I think it depends on the size and location. I work for a small nonprofit in SW MN. We are a provider in the ID/DD field and while we pay better than others in our area/field, we by no means pay a huge difference between positions. Education and experience play a large part in that, as I have staff that have been working 40+ years for me, and some that started in January.

  • Michael H Koster says:

    September 28, 2023 10:30 am

    Anyone who works in non-profits knows the CEOs are doing well. It's the folks in the trenches doing the grunt work that are not doing do well. This is where the attention should be focused.

  • Dee Barrett Grosso says:

    September 28, 2023 8:46 am

    Looking forward to reviewing all results. Female CEOs should be paid equally. Good news about the gender pay gap.