Foundation Salaries Aren’t Keeping Up With Rising Prices
A new survey also finds a persistent gender pay gap, high turnover, and slow efforts to improve diversity.
Wages grew but failed to keep up with rising prices in 2023, according to a new survey of grant makers that also reveals rising turnover, a persistent gender pay gap, and the expansion of some benefits like paternity leave.
The Council on Foundations’ Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report polled 957 foundations and other grant-making organizations that collectively employ 10,733 full-time staff members. Salaries among all staff members rose by an average of 5.49 percent in 2023, but couldn’t keep up with a peak inflation rate of 9.1 percent. That means that even as their paychecks increased, foundation staff might have felt like they could afford less because of rising prices at the grocery store, car dealership, or day care center.
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Wages grew but failed to keep up with rising prices into the beginning of 2023, according to a new survey of grant makers. The study also reveals rising turnover, a persistent gender pay gap, and the expansion of some benefits, like paternity leave.
The Council on Foundations’ annual “Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report” polled 957 grant-making organizations that collectively employ 10,733 full-time staff members. Salaries among full-time staff members rose by an average of 5.5 percent in 2023, up from a 3 percent increase in 2022. However, wages still grew slower than inflation, which averaged 8 percent in 2022. That has also been the case in other parts of the nonprofit and philanthropic world. Salaries among fundraisers increased by 6.4 percent in 2022, still short of inflation, according to a separate survey.
That gap means that even as their paychecks increased, foundation staff might have felt like they could afford less because of rising prices at the grocery store or car dealership.
Other key findings include:
- Although women account for more than 60 percent of foundation CEOs, they earned only 85 percent of what men earn in the same role. The median salary for a woman CEO in 2023 was $201,382, while men earned $236,080.
- Only 15 percent of foundation CEOs were people of color in 2023, up slightly from 14 percent in 2022. Just 3 percent of foundation CEOs were Latino, despite making up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population. Black Americans make up more than 13 percent of the population, but account for only 6.5 percent of foundation CEOs. Overall, people of color now account for around 33 percent of full-time foundation staff, up from 27 percent in 2020.
- Nearly half of grant makers surveyed now offer their full-time employees paternity leave, and two-in-five offer adoption leave, both higher than years prior. Around 10 percent of grant makers also offer sabbaticals to their full-time staff.
While foundation wages overall rose by 5.5 percent, CEO salaries rose by 5.8 percent, a slightly higher rate. The median salary for a foundation CEO is now $215,000.
Since March 2021, when prices began to skyrocket at their fastest rate in 40 years, wages across the economy have struggled to keep up. This trend has slowly begun to reverse in recent months. In May 2023, after two years of stagnant wage growth, salaries across the economy finally began to outstrip inflation, thanks to easing prices.
The Council on Foundations’s survey results come from February 2023 — and might not yet reflect those more recent wage trends. However, economists believe that paychecks won’t fully recover until the end of 2024.
Inflation has also compounded a major nonprofit staffing crisis, which has seen some employees leave the nonprofit workforce for higher salaries at for-profit companies. The report found that turnover at the foundations surveyed increased to 13 percent in 2023, up from 11 percent in 2022.
Foundations are not alone. A report released in August by the National Council of Nonprofits found that more than half of nonprofits were struggling with more job vacancies than before the pandemic, and three-quarters said that competition from higher-paying jobs was making hiring more difficult.