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Charitable Fundraising Salaries Decrease Slightly Across North America

(May 12, 2009) Salaries for charitable fundraisers in the United States and Canada decreased in 2008, according to the latest Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Compensation and Benefits Study.

The average salary for U.S. respondents decreased by 2.0 percent—from $72,683 in 2007 to $71,199 in 2008. Average salaries for Canadian fundraisers decreased from C$74,376 in 2007 to C$71,511 in 2008—a 3.9 percent decrease.

“It’s clear that the turbulent economy that has led to declines in employment and benefits across North America is having an impact on the fundraising profession as well,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “Given past data, we don’t expect these decreases to continue if the economy improves, and overall fundraiser salaries have increased significantly in the history of our compensation survey. However, the answer to the question of how quickly salaries will rebound is unclear.”

Maehara noted that despite the economy, fundraising remains one of the strongest professions with many opportunities for both beginning and experienced practitioners. “U.S. News and World Reports identified fundraising recently as one of the top 30 professions for the future,” she continued. “Fundraising knowledge and know-how is still in huge demand, especially in a challenging economy when giving is at a premium.”

The survey found that location and type of organization play an important part in determining salary. Within the six regions of the United States, average salaries for all respondents ranged from $64,231 in the South Central area to $76,847 in the Northwest region. Fundraisers working for consulting firms enjoyed the highest average salary of $81,129, followed by those individuals employed by international/emergency relief organizations ($78,313) and educational organizations ($77,381). 

Within the three regions of Canada, average salaries for all respondents ranged from C$60,017 in the Eastern provinces area to C$75,862 in the Central provinces. Fundraisers working for trade and professional associations enjoyed the highest average salary of C$100,000, followed by those individuals employed by scientific or research organizations (C$95,400) and educational organizations (C$80,878). 

The possession of a certification credential correlated positively with salary. Fundraisers in the U.S. possessing the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential earned, on average, $15,000 more than respondents with no certification, while individuals in Canada holding the credential earned C$19,366 more than those who did not. Those individuals possessing the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) credential earned $36,000 more in the U.S. and C$26,703 more in Canada.

As expected, there were also positive correlations between average compensation and the size of an organization’s staff, its budget and amount of funds raised, as well as years of professional experience.

A significant gap continues to exist between the salaries of male and female fundraisers in both countries. Male fundraisers in the United States reported an average salary of $86,596 in 2008.  Women earned $66,388 on average. With the exception of 2005 when the salary gap diminished slightly, in the United States the gap has consistently been approximately $20,000 during the nine years in which the survey has been conducted.

There was also a gap in salaries by gender in Canada, where male fundraisers reported an average salary of C$85,343 in 2008 and women earned C$67,711 on average. The gender salary gap in Canada has been approximately $16,000 each year of the survey except for 2007, when the difference was only C$3,353. Seventy-five percent of all survey respondents classified themselves as female, while 24 percent classified themselves as male.

Asked whether they looked for a job with another employer in the last 12 months, 41 percent of United States respondents and 40 percent of Canadian respondents said yes.  Top reasons for job leaving included were to earn a higher salary, frustration with the work environment, to engage in more interesting or challenging work, and opportunities for career advancement elsewhere.

The survey also addressed health, retirement and other benefits. 

Click here to download the complete 2009 AFP Compensation and Benefits Report. Your member log-in is required to enter the Member Gateway section of the AFP website. Please click on the link labeled Compensation & Benefits Report.

Members can order an individualized report for $45 - please send your request to

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