Out of 3,929 charities reviewed in Charity Navigator’s 2013 CEO Compensation Study, a whopping 78 of the CEOs mentioned reportedly earned salaries between $500,000 and $1 million. The study revealed many donors simply assume these leaders work for free or minimal pay. It’s easy to forget that these large charities are multi-million dollar operations.
Are these high-earning execs pulling a fair salary for their good works, or are their impressive salaries questionable considering the nature of their work?
Several states, including New York, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts, have pushed legislation to limit the salary of nonprofit CEOs who accept public funding. Florida pushed for a limit of $129,972, while Massachusetts suggested $500,000 (Forbes). New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told Forbes, “These regulations will allow the state government to identify and stop the few providers that pocket taxpayer dollars rather than use them to serve the public.”
When qualified talent is already earning less than what would be offered by a for-profit company, the issue comes down to a question of whether or not a strong corporate culture is crucial to the success of these charities. In the corporate world, a higher salary results in a greater value. While looking at CEO compensation for these charities is only one number, if their talent results in greater revenue for the organization, the level of income may be justifiable. Take a look at this list of 12 nonprofit CEOs raking in a staggering annual salary, and let us know what you think in the comments section below.
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Laurance Hoagland Jr., Chief Investment Officer of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation earns a hefty salary of $2.5 million. The Hewlett Foundation has a wide range of goals—reducing global poverty, limiting the risk of climate change, advancing education, improving reproductive health rights and supporting local performing arts. (Huffington Post)
John Seffrin, CEO of American Cancer Society, earns $2.1 million, while also serving at the White House on the public health advisory group. The American Cancer Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organization fighting cancer. (Huffington Post)
Roxanne Spillett, President of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, earns $1.8 million at an organization with expenses exceeding $130 million (CNN Money). The Boys & Girls Club provides educational after-school programs for more than 4,000 chapters, serving around 4 million children. (Huffington Post)
Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, earns nearly $1.5 million. The Met was founded in 1870 to encourage the study and application of fine arts. The Met’s yearly expenses have reached $386 million (CNN Money). (Charity Navigator)
Placido Domingo, General Director of the Los Angeles Opera earns $1.35 million. Domingo is an opera singer and conductor as well, performing in more than 3,600 shows. Domingo has won twelve Grammy’s and has played a role in three opera films. This charitable CEO played a voice role in Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua. (Huffington Post)
The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
Michael Kaiser, President of the JFK Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C., earns $1.348 million. Kaiser previously worked for the Royal Opera House and was a corporate advisor before focusing on the arts, working for clients like GM and IBM. The Kennedy Center seeks the best performers from around the world, while striving to be a leader in arts education. (Huffington Post)
Metropolitan Opera Association
Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Association in New York, earns $1.3 million. The Met Opera hosts more than 200 performances every year with some of the world’s most creative and talented artists worldwide. Gelb has had a lifelong love of the opera. He began working at the Met Opera at 17 years old as an usher. Now, as General Manager, Gelb earns $78K in benefits. The Met Opera is currently undergoing a drop in attendance and severe labor negotiations, discussing cuts of 17 percent their annual compensation (New York Observer). (Huffington Post)
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Glenn Lowry, Chief Executive of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, earns $1.2 million. Notably, the museum raised admission costs in 2012, while the CEO still receives $318K in housing to live free of charge in a $6 million apartment in MoMA’s residential tower. (Huffington Post)
Brian A. Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide, earns $1.2 million. United Way was founded in 1887 to transport leaders and support to 41 countries and territories around the world. Groups promote educational and health initiatives to suffering communities. (Charity Navigator)
James Williams, Chief Investment Officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, earns $1.2 million. The Getty, one of the world’s wealthiest art institutions, is dedicated to carefully presenting and conserving the world’s artistic legacy. After cutting back on several programs and employees and raising parking costs during the recession, Williams was able to maintain his more-than-agreeable salary. (Huffington Post)
Michael Salem, President and CEO of National Jewish Health, earns a salary of just over $1 million. National Jewish Health is the leading hospital for respiratory care in the United States. (Charity Navigator)
Michael Miller, CEO of Goodwill, earns $856,043. Goodwill uses donations to train people for jobs who are currently unemployed. After being ridiculed by the Oregon Department of Justice for an “unreasonable” salary, Miller continues with compensation surpassing $850,000. During Miller’s time at Goodwill, he has increased revenue up to 107 percent to a record $135.5 million, while adding 1,000 jobs since 2004. The number of people served through Goodwill has increased from 11,694 to 52,170 during Miller’s leadership, perhaps proving the benefit of well-paid charity CEOs (Portland Business Journal).
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