From the Desk of “We Want Nonprofits to Be More Like Business…until We Don’t.”

Executive compensation remains one of the most highly scrutinized activities in the nonprofit sector, yet is often described by only one data figure, the dollar amount on compensation, and not in context of the organizational budget or in comparison to other sectors.

Media outlets and watchdog agencies love to compile lists: a Top 25, a Top 50, even a Top 100. Only the Minnesota Star Tribune list even brings up revenue and expenses and allows you to search by subsector for comparisons. Of note in the Minnesota example, 21 of the top 22 are in health care, where state law currently requires health maintenance organizations to be incorporated as nonprofits. Healthcare is generally followed by higher education institutions (lovingly referred to as “the meds and eds”) for top compensation, with large social service agencies and museums close behind.

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Jeannie Fox, Nonprofit Quarterly