News and analysis
July 22, 2015

Fundraiser Salaries Are Flat, Study Finds

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Salaries for American fundraisers were flat in 2014, according to a new survey — a finding at odds with what experts and others are reporting from the field.

The median salary for fundraisers was $65,000 last year, the same as it was in 2013, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals annual compensation survey. Indeed, the figure has hovered around this mark since 2010, save for an anomalous spike in 2012.

"It’s safe to say the fundraising salary landscape strongly mirrors that of the current U.S. environment, and we’re not expecting to see any significant increases in the coming years," said AFP President Andrew Watt in a statement with the survey’s release.

Many fundraising professionals and compensation experts, meanwhile, describe a hot market for talent that’s driving up pay for proven fundraisers. "It is a real good time to be a real good development person," said Pete Smith, a compensation consultant for nonprofits.

Mr. Smith says organizations that offer 3-percent raises to all staff might set aside increases of 5 or 6 percent for top fundraisers. "Good people are commanding higher and higher salaries."

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The AFP’s salary figures are based on responses from 1,773 of its members. These included professionals from all levels and from organizations of all sizes.

The AFP survey has been criticized previously because it is not a "matched sample" survey, in which respondents are the same from year to year.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual fundraiser salary survey, which focuses only on the top fundraisers at large nonprofits, found that total compensation climbed nearly 10 percent from 2011 to 2012 (the latest years for which data are available). This analysis was drawn from compensation information reported to the Internal Revenue Service from a matched sample of 161 fundraisers at organizations that raise $35 million or more annually.

Full results of The Chronicle survey will be available August 3 at philanthropy.com.

Ariana Giorgi contributed to this report.

Send an e-mail to Drew Lindsay.