Study: Nonprofit Salaries Flatten as a Result of the Pandemic
U.S. nonprofit salaries began to rise in early 2020, but those numbers soon dropped back down to 2019 levels due to the pandemic, according to new research from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
In the “2021 Compensation and Benefits Report,” respondents’ average pre-pandemic salary increased by 4% in March 2020 — up to $88,421 from $85,060 at 2019’s end, but figures then dropped back to 2019 levels. The 3% decrease reduced the average salary to $85,567 — leaving just a $507 increase year-over-year. However, the median salary remained steady at $75,000 throughout the same time span.
AFP surveyed 3,261 fundraising professionals — including chief development officers, fundraising officers and fundraising program managers, CEO and executive directors. The annual study examined fundraiser salaries, benefits and demographics, as well as workplace issues and the impact of the pandemic.
Though 14.5% of respondents did receive a raise, averaging $7,885 — another 18.5% received a pay cut, averaging $20,769. Reasons for loss of income during the pandemic mainly broke into 3 categories:
- 3% were laid off and found a new job
- 5% were given days off without pay
- 10% accepted lower pay at the same employer or elsewhere to remain employed
“That the profession experienced a global pandemic, but salaries, in general, remained flat—and some fundraisers actually saw significant increases in pay—is surprising,” Mike Geiger, president and CEO of AFP, said in a statement. “But dig a little deeper and we see a wide variety of salary changes, and most of us know colleagues who lost their jobs or had to take pay cuts. Our report this year shows a profession that adapted and [employees that] remain committed to their work, despite the myriad challenges.”
Women’s compensation continued to lag behind men’s salaries in 2020 by 20%, with women taking home an average of $85,967 compared with men’s pay of $103,175. Previous AFP research has found that 10% of the gap between men’s and women’s pay is attributed to gender, with years of experience in the field and the size of the institution in which the fundraiser worked also contributing.
Meanwhile 1% selected a gender other than male or female. Salaries in that category averaged $110,217 — 7% higher than male counterparts and 28% higher than female counterparts, on average. AFP also found those who identified as Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color (BIPOC) earned 10% less than those who identified as white only.
“Reviewing the study data, there’s nothing that explains why we saw this drop in salary for BIPOC fundraisers after nearly two years of almost equal compensation,” Kevin J. Foyle, CFRE, vice president of development and public affairs for UTHealth in Houston and chair of AFP, said in a statement. “This change is an area we’re going [to] further explore related to the relationships between fundraising compensation and race and ethnicity.”
When it comes to pondering a job change, two-thirds were considering their options in past surveys. Only half of respondents thought about leaving their jobs in 2020 though reasons for seeking new employment remained similar:
- Seeking opportunities for career advancement (61%)
- Higher pay (59%)
- Frustrating work environment (39%)
- Lack of support for fundraising in the organization (30%)
- Unrealistic employer expectations related to the job (25%)
“Far fewer fundraisers in 2020 thought about leaving their jobs than in previous years, and the pandemic was likely a huge reason for that decrease,” Geiger said in a statement. “Otherwise, these retention numbers are similar to the data in past reports. While the fundraising process is most effective when fundraisers remain at their jobs, good professionals are always going to seek out other opportunities and higher pay.”