The Council on Foundations today announced the release of the 2011 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report, the most comprehensive information available on staff composition and compensation for U.S. foundations. The report contains salaries for 34 full-time positions and allows grantmakers to benchmark compensation against their peers by foundation type, size, and region. The report also offers extensive information on benefits policies and practices and includes new data on health care premiums by plan type.

“Over the years, foundations have come to rely on this survey as a vital resource tool used to attract and retain the field’s best talent,” said Jeff Clarke, the Council’s interim president and CEO. “The philanthropic sector continues to provide innovative solutions for our communities, especially in the wake of decreasing resources from the public sector. This report provides the baseline that ensures foundation leaders are aware of current benchmarks to build a stronger talent pool in the philanthropic field.”

The findings in the report are based on responses to an online survey of 910 grantmakers, which reported salaries for a total of 7,574 full-time employees. The respondents included 326 community foundations, 241 independent foundations, 163 family foundations, 100 public funders, 59 corporate grantmakers, 10 operating foundations, and 11 “other grantmakers” (primarily federated and other institutional giving programs).

Key findings and trends include:

    • In 2011, independent foundations reported the highest median salary ($86,000), while the medians were notably lower for public foundations ($66,000), community foundations ($59,100), and other grantmakers ($55,105).
    • Respondents in the Northeast and West had higher median salaries ($79,150 and $75,000, respectively) than the South ($65,000) and Midwest ($64,000).
    • Among the 34 positions the survey tracked, CEOs/chief giving officers (CGOs) and program officers accounted for the largest share of reported salaries (11 percent each).
    • The median salary for CEOs/ CGOs was $142,000, and for program officers the median was $80,000.
    • Independent and family foundations reported higher median CEO salaries ($188,845 and $164,900, respectively) than public ($142,413) and community foundations ($109,242).
    • A large share of respondents (87 percent) expected to or already had increased staff salaries for 2011. The median implemented or planned increase remained 3 percent.
    • During the past five years, median foundation salaries experienced a nominal increase of 14.2 percent. Both CEOs and program officers benefited from a marginally faster growth rate in their median salaries between 2007 and 2011—14.9 and 14.7 percent, respectively.
    • Seventy-seven percent of all respondents (88 percent of those offering voluntary benefits) provided medical benefits to their full-time employees. Among grantmakers with at least $100 million in assets, the share rose to 98 percent.
    • Among all respondents, the median total cost of staff benefits (required and voluntary) as a percentage of total salaries (payroll) was 25 percent.
  • Around half of respondents covered the full cost of single-coverage medical benefits.

The report is available for sale to Council members for $149. The nonmember price is $199.


The Council on Foundations is a national nonprofit association of more than 1,700 grantmaking foundations and corporations. As the leading advocate for philanthropy, we strive to increase the effectiveness, stewardship, and accountability of our sector while providing our members with the services and support they need to advance the common good.

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.


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