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Charitable Fundraising Salaries Increase

(May 4, 2010) Salaries for charitable fundraisers in the United States increased in 2009, according to the latest Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Compensation and Benefits Study.

Related Story: Charitable Fundraising Salaries Increase Across Canada

The average salary for U.S. respondents increased by 7.4 percent-from $71,199 in 2008 to $76,482 in 2009. This growth in salary is in strong contrast to the two percent drop in salaries that was found in last year's survey.

"The decline in fundraising salaries across North America that occurred in 2008 seems now to have reversed," said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. "The results of the 2009-2010 compensation survey show that in spite of difficult economic conditions, nonprofit leaders understand the critical role fundraisers play in the financial success of their organizations, and are willing to compensate them accordingly."

Maehara noted that despite the economy, fundraising remains one of the strongest professions with many opportunities for both beginning and experienced practitioners. The number of postings on AFP's job boards have doubled over the past year, while fundraising is consistently mentioned as one of the top jobs in the future by publications such as U.S. News and World Report.

"Fundraising knowledge and know-how are still in huge demand, especially in a challenging economy when giving is at a premium," said Maehara. "With government budgets at all levels declining, charities must look more than ever to private support from individuals, corporations and foundations. The need for trained and capable fundraisers who can reach out to and inspire diverse groups of donors is greater than ever."

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 $70,032 in the Southwest area to $80,842 in the Northeast region. Fundraisers working for consulting firms enjoyed the highest average salary of $101,076, followed by those individuals employed by trade and professional associations ($87,515) and organizations related to health problems ($83,111). 

The possession of a certification credential correlated positively with salary. Fundraisers possessing the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential earned, on average, $25,000 more than respondents with no certification. Those individuals possessing the Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE) credential earned $51,000 more.

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 education and years of professional experience.

A significant gap continues to exist between the salaries of male and female fundraisers in both countries. Male fundraisers reported an average salary of $92,490 in 2009. Women earned $71,210 on average. With the exception of 2005 when the salary gap diminished slightly, the discrepancy has consistently been approximately $20,000 during the nine years in which the survey has been conducted.

The survey also addressed health, retirement and other benefits. To access the full report of the study, visit the AFP Research, Statistics and Reports page located in the Members section of AFP's website, (login required).

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