News and analysis
May 08, 2012

Fundraisers’ Pay Didn’t Keep Up With Inflation Last Year

Pay raises for fundraisers in 2011 increased by just 1.5 percent, not enough to keep pace with last year’s 3-percent inflation rate, according to a report released today.

The anemic growth is a key reason many fundraisers say they are looking for higher-paying positions elsewhere.

About 43 percent of fundraisers said they had looked for a new job in the past year, up slightly from 41 percent in 2010 and 37 percent in 2009. Many more fundraisers are thinking about doing so—a total of about six in 10, the survey found—and they said the search for a higher salary was the No. 1 reason.

Fundraisers earned a median of $66,000 in 2011, meaning that half earned more and half less, edging up only slightly from the $65,000 median salary of 2010.

The survey was based on data from more than 2,700 fundraisers provided to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Nearly 80 percent were women and slightly less than 4 percent were minorities.

Highs and Lows

Among nonprofit causes, public broadcasting organizations paid their fundraisers the most, reporting median salaries of $80,000. Fundraising consultants were not far behind, earning a median of $79,000.

The lowest-paid fundraisers were those who work for United Ways, Jewish federations, and similar nonprofit networks, with a median salary of $52,000. They suffered the biggest drop in the survey, a 29-percent decline, but that could be a sign that those who answered this year were more junior or worked at smaller groups than those in previous studies.

Fundraisers who work at community-development organizations made only slightly more, a median of $53,000, a decrease of 18.5 percent from 2010.

Among other key findings:

• The median salary for men was $80,000 and for women, $64,000. The association found a similar gap in each of the dozen years it has conducted the survey.

• Fundraisers who worked for organizations that raised the most money received the biggest paychecks, making a median of $93,500 in 2010. They also earned the biggest bump in pay, 10.7 percent.

• Those who sought money for international groups were likely to be paid more, with a median of $78,250, than those who worked for national, regional, or local groups.

• Fundraisers with advanced professional certification, such as the certified fundraising-executive credential, earned on average $50,000 more last year than those who did not.

While many fundraisers are looking for new jobs, the study also found that many are very happy in their current roles. About 52 percent of those surveyed said they plan to keep their current position indefinitely, and 17 percent would like to move to a higher management level.

Eighty-two percent of fundraisers said they were satisfied with their careers, the report says. Less than 1 percent said they were “very dissatisfied.”

Free copies of the full survey, “2012 Compensation and Benefits Study,” are available to members of the association. Anyone else can buy a copy for $95.