Female Nonprofit Fundraisers Paid 10% Less than Males

March 10, 2019 — Female nonprofit fundraisers earn about 10% less than their male counterparts, and the higher in the organization they are, the wider the pay gap becomes, according to a newly released report.

Employment as a chief executive officer, chief development officer, vice president, or director of fundraising is associated with a 25.3% increase in salary, compared to program director, department director, and fundraising officer, as reported in The Impact of Gender on Fundraising Salaries 2014-2018, published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

Nearly 60% of men hold a high-level position, compared with 52.5% of women.

The AFP analysis was based on a survey of 10,628 fundraisers who work at least three-quarters time. State level data were not provided.

The overall 10% pay differential among fundraising professionals is slightly better than the national economy, in which, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report, women across the United States earn 16% less than men.

Factors beyond gender that help explain the difference in pay include "years of experience, educational attainment, occupational differences, and other 'negative factors' – taking time off to care for children or other family members or otherwise interrupting a career for family obligations," AFP said.

"While it may be unsurprising that fundraising salaries are higher at very large organizations, for high-level positions, and for fundraisers with advanced degrees, the fact that gender contributed to a 10% decrease in salary for women is not trivial," the report notes.

Among key findings of the report are the following:
  • 42% of men work in an organization with a budget of $10 million or more, compared with one-third of women. Working in an organization with a budget of $50 million or more is associated with a 53.7% increase in annual salary, and working in a budget of $10 to $49.9 million is associated with a 31% increase in annual salary, compared with organizations with budgets of less than $1 million.

  • Holding a professional or advanced degree is associated with a 15.5% increase in annual salary compared with Bachelor degree holders, and 52.3% of men hold a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree, compared with 42.5% of women, and.

  • Experiencing one or more negative factors is associated with a 5.7% decrease in salary, and the gap between men and women experiencing specific negative factors was largest for taking time off to care for a child (1.1% of men and 11.2% of women) and relocating for a spouse (4.2% of men and 8.8% of women).
Noting that remedies for pay inequality are beyond the scope of its report, AFP said "awareness of the data, acknowledgement of the responsibility within the profession and among hiring managers to close gender-based gaps, and an active commitment to equity may shift the culture in fundraising and result in differences in pay based only on differences in merit."

Last month, the Boston Symphony Orchestra agreed to settle a case filed against the nonprofit by its principal flutist, a woman who claimed she was paid significantly less than a male colleague doing comparable work, in what was believed to be the first lawsuit under the Bay State's new equity pay law.