GuideStar Analysis: Gender Pay Gap Still Significant at Large Nonprofits

The latest edition of GuideStar's Nonprofit Compensation Report reveals that salaries on the whole are improving but that female executives still make less than their male counterparts. The largest nonprofits have the largest gap.

Much like the recent BoardSource Leading With Intent survey, the latest edition of GuideStar’s Nonprofit Compensation Report [purchase required] doesn’t have a whole lot of great news about progress on diversity issues—specifically, in this case, the gender pay gap.

The nonprofit reporting firm’s analysis of nearly 100,000 nonprofit 990 forms found that salaries have rebounded nearly to pre-Great Recession levels.

“In seven out of eight budget categories, nonprofit CEO compensation grew more in 2015 than in 2014,” GuideStar Senior Research Fellow Chuck McLean said in a news release. “Although median increases are still lower than observed before the recession, 2015 was the first year since 2008 in which we saw increases of 4 percent or more.”

The study found that health and science nonprofits had the highest median salaries, while arts, religion, and animal nonprofits had the lowest.

But even in an improving salary environment, the gender pay gap persists, especially in large organizations, the analysis found. Although there were more women in CEO roles in nonprofits of all sizes (particularly at organizations with budgets between $25 million and $50 million), the compensation gap remained stark—especially in organizations with budgets greater than $50 million, where female executives earned 21 percent less than male executives.

“Women still represent the majority of CEOs at smaller organizations,” the report notes, according to Fast Company. “The gap is smaller at organizations with budgets of less than $500,000 but shows no clear trend of abating at larger organizations.”

The GuideStar analysis could spark deeper conversations at nonprofits across the board, Nonprofit Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Ruth McCambridge wrote this week. She suggested following recommendations set out by the National Council of Nonprofits, which supports an independent “comparability review” process outlined by the IRS.

“It does appear that consciousness may be growing of the need to bring the salaries of women leaders closer to parity,” McCambridge wrote. “With all of these external considerations, however, nonprofits should observe the basics in doing the research to determine fair and reasonable compensation.”

(tsvibrav/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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