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2017 Compensation and Benefits Report: Salaries Drop Slightly For Canadian Charitable Fundraisers, But Confidence in Organizations Remain High

(Toronto, Ont.)  Salaries for professional fundraisers in Canada working in the charitable sector dropped in 2016, but confidence in their organization’s fundraising ability and effectiveness remains high, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 2017 Compensation and Benefits Report.

AFP Members: Download Your Free Copy of the 2017 Report
Nonmembers: Purchase Your Copy of the AFP 2017 Report ($79)

The mean (average) fundraising salary in 2016 was $73,529, a decrease of over six percent from the $78,380 reported in 2015. The median (middle value) for all Canadian respondents in 2016 was $70,000, a drop of more than four percent from the median of $73,000 reported in 2015.

The top 25 percent of respondent fundraisers earned more than $90,000 in 2016, and the bottom 25 percent earned $53,000 or less. Both figures are slight drops from 2015.

The average Canadian fundraiser has held 3.6 positions in his or her career.  The average number of years per employer (turnover rate) is 4.0, slightly lower from the turnover rate of 4.2 in the last survey.

Sixty percent of respondents saw their incomes rise in 2016, which is the same percentage who saw increases in 2015.

“We have seen small declines in salaries over the past two years, mirroring the economic uncertainty taking place in Canada,” said Jason Lee, interim president and CEO of AFP. “However, incomes continue to rise for a majority of fundraisers, and confidence in their organizations—and their organization’s capacity to raise funds effectively—remains high.”

Salary by Geography, Experience, Credential

Within the three regions of Canada, average salaries for all respondents ranged from a low $65,468 in the Eastern provinces area to a high of $75,314 in the Central provinces.

Years of professional experience correlated with salaries. Those with less than 10 years of experience reported average salaries of $50,296 - $73,984.  Those with 10 - 24 years’ experience averaged $78,766 - $97,019. The highest salaries were reported for those with 25 or more years of experience, ranging from $95,447 - $115.833.

Fundraisers in organizations that were national in scope reported the highest average salaries ($80,207), followed by state/provincial organizations with an average of $77,927. Organizations with a local scope reported the lowest average salaries: $67,739.

There was also a positive correlation between average compensation and level of education. Individuals with an MBA were the highest earners, with an average salary of $101,550. The possession of a certification credential correlates positively with salary. CFREs reported average salaries $25,000 higher than the average for respondents with no certification. 

A significant gap continues to exist between the salaries of male and female fundraisers in Canada as well as in the United States. Male fundraisers in Canada reported an average salary of $85,785 in 2016, while women earned $71,596 on average. This is the second consecutive year the gap has been approximately $14,000.

Workplace Challenges, Satisfaction

The Compensation and Benefits Survey also asks respondents about issues in the workplace.

Insufficient staff personnel, competition from other assigned duties, and leaders who don’t appreciate fundraising were the three situations respondents reported as most problematic in doing their professional work.

About half (45 percent) plan to serve in their present position indefinitely. Twenty-three percent would like to move to a higher management level at work, four percent would like to have different fundraising responsibilities in their jobs, 14 percent would like to move to a different fundraising organization, and five percent would like to leave fundraising for a different field. These figures are very similar to last year’s survey.

For the second consecutive year, the survey asked new questions about respondents’ confidence in different parts of their organization. Fifty-nine percent of Canadian respondents feel somewhat or very confident in their organization’s board member/leadership engagement in fund development, while 71 percent feel somewhat or very confident in their organization’s investment in fundraising capacity and technologies. 

In addition, 64 percent feel somewhat or very confident that fund development, philanthropy and accountability are understood and valued throughout their organization, while 65 percent are somewhat or very confident that their organization’s fund development is very effective.  All of these figures are slightly higher than they were in 2015.

When asked about diversity and inclusiveness in their organizations, 75 percent of Canadians said they agree or strongly agree that inclusiveness is a priority. Forty-five percent of Canadian respondents feel that the number of ethnically diverse fundraisers has increased in the last 15 years.

“These statistics show clearly that there is a very strong, committed, and vibrant fundraising profession in Canada,” said Scott Decksheimer, CFRE, the chair of the AFP Canada Board of Directors. “We are confident in our members’ fundraising ability and acumen—and of each of our organizations’ capacity to inspire donors.  I’m very pleased to see that so many of us view inclusion as a priority for our profession. We, of course, have a way to go in creating a profession that is representative of the diversity of our country.  That said, I remain concerned about the continuing gender gap in salaries.” 

About the Survey 

A total of 294 AFP members in Canada submitted usable responses by the time the survey closed, a response rate of 8.9 percent. Respondents vary from year to year.

The 2017 AFP Compensation and Benefits Report is available free to AFP members while non-members may purchase the report for $79. The report provides information on how salaries differ based on subsector, organizational budget, geography, education, your years of experience and countless other factors, while also detailing fundraiser perspectives on retirement, challenges, keeping them inspired and other issues.

Also available are Position and Function Reports, which show how salaries compare by job titles and functions within a development office. These Mini-Reports are $9.99 for members and $12.99 for non-members.

The main report, as well as the Position and Function Reports, are available at the AFP Online Bookstore.

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