Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CEO's of non-profits

A big part of me figuring out how to DO SOMETHING against social injustice, is looking at different organizations that are really making making headway and making a difference.  

There are so many and I have high-lighted a few on this blog.  However lately I have felt led to look a little deeper at these organizations, and find out where the donations are going; specifically what salaries the CEO's are taking.  

I was shocked.

And appalled.

At some of the numbers I found.

So I've been thinking about what constitutes a reasonable salary, and what is considered excessive.  People's opinions will surely vary on this, and I haven't figured it out.  But here is my processing.....

When it comes to for-profit companies I don't care much how they distribute their earnings.   I would like to think that a profitable company shares the reward with all the employees providing a reasonable living wage to lowest on the totem pole. But to be honest, I don't lose sleep over this.  

However, when I think about non-profits whose monies come directly in the form of donations, from hard-working people, I have a desire to know where that money is going.  And even more directly, I want to make sure that the people on the top are not getting wealthy from money that we are giving for a cause we believe in.  

Do I think that those who work for non-profits should have to live in poverty?  No.  But do I think they should give up the goal of an affluent lifestyle?  Yes.  I really do.  I think that's a choice that should be made.  They have the freedom to pursue money through working for many for-profit companies.  So when they make a choice to work for a non-profit, I think they should also be choosing to make a modest living.  Especially when the non-profit is faith-based.

Why?  Because the bible teaches us to give sacrificially.   As we forgo wants and even needs to support an organization, should that blood money then go to funding a CEO's elaborate lifestyle?   Shouldn't there be sacrifice in choosing to do this kind of work?  

I have so many more thoughts on this.  I'm still processing.  And researching.  A great resource I found is  where you can find the financial info on almost all non-profits.  Go to the form 990, scroll down a bit and you can see what the CEO's and key employees are making.


Joyful Living said...

Love you blog, love your passion

Anonymous said...

I also like to check with

sorry for the anonymous at the top, I can't remember my password

Heather said...

AMEN! Thanks for the link. I plan to do some sleuthing of my own(:

brian c. berry said...

Hey Amy,

I totally agree with much of this post.

I have a few thoughts to toss into the mix as you consider what is appropriate compensation or not:

1. Some companies are so large they must be run by men or women with extreme credentials. So as an example I downloaded world vision's data and found out there top VP makes over 200k a year. This might seem extreme. However this man is in the top position on a non profit that posted almost a billion dollars in money that came in. If he were in that position in a secular community- which is where he would be with these skills... he'd make millions. So, I think there are lots of factors to consider when deciding how much is too much. I think the general rule might be as a percentage of the non-profits total size or budget, not necessarily as a general number. Ie: if you give $35 to World Vision, what percentage of that money goes toward operating costs, salaries, and such?

2. I wonder if it'd seem like "too much" if we were aware that the guy making 200k+ a year used to make millions in the secular world and left it for a million dollar pay cut to work at World Vision. I don't know if he did, but it'd sure make the money sound different in my eyes.

doing my best to live justly with you,


Nancy Schneider said...

I love your blog and the heart that it represents. I also appreciate Brian's comments regarding the pay schedules for the non-profit CEOs. It's a tricky balance. I'm a member of an international missions organization, where everyone, from the CEO down, raises their own support. I assure you, none of us make more than $100,000! Having said that, I do know some of the individuals that you listed and know them to be Godly servants. They are caring for families and striving to meet commitments for extended family members, too. Again, I appreciate your remarks, but know that the answers here aren't always black and white. But do press on!