While the word “nonprofit” may denote some level of altruism, charity workers appear to be taking home increasingly bigger paychecks.
Around 2,700 employees of tax-exempt organizations, including hospitals, colleges and traditional charities, received millions in compensation in 2014, a Wall Street Journal analysis of newly public Internal Revenue Service data found.
After studying the electronic returns of 100,000 organizations, the Journal found that the number of nonprofit employees making seven figures grew by 33 percent between 2011 and 2014. For four of the five earners with the fattest paychecks, the largest chunk of their income came from bonuses.
At the top of the list was Anthony Tersigni, president and chief executive officer of Edmundson, Missouri-based Ascension Health Alliance, the world’s largest Catholic health system. Ascension received $20 billion in revenue, including $119 million in donations, and provided $1.8 billion in health care for people living in poverty, according to a financial report from 2014—the same year Tersigni made $17.6 million, the Journal found.
Jane Mendillo, former president and chief executive officer of Harvard Management Company, which oversees the eponymous university’s financial resources, was second on the list, with $13.8 million. In third was her co-worker Andrew Wiltshire, who served as Harvard Management’s head of alternative assets and made $10.5 million. Both have since left the organization.
The findings don’t mean all nonprofit leaders are raking in millions, however. A study of 4,587 organizations by the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator—which is itself a nonprofit—found in October that the median pay for charity CEOs was $123,362, and that compensation varied with location, operating budget and line of work. Ten charities, the study found, awarded their chief executives paychecks of $1 million or more.
Another study, by nonprofit information service GuideStar USA Inc., which had a much larger sample size of 96,242 IRS forms from 2014, found that charity executives earned the most in Washington, D.C., with a median salary of $166,667, and New York, with $147,075. It also discovered that, as in the for-profit world, the industry had a bit of a pay gap, which increased with operating budgets.