It is a common belief that the draw to work in a career as a non profit employee is often not the money. People want to do something good for others or dedicate their talents for a cause that they feel passionate about. However, one can still maintain a comfortable salary in a non profit career. Many factors contribute to determining non profit salaries such as location, position, experience, and others.
At the basic or volunteer level, a non profit worker can have virtually no credentials. However, depending on the level of the position and more specifically the type of service that the non profit does, higher levels of education and experience may be necessary. For example, a Financial Systems Director for Michael Page International (non profit education) in New York City will require a bachelor's degree in accounting, business, or technology, and may need a master's degree to be the top candidate. This type of position also pays up to and over $100,000 a year. (ExecSearches, December 2010, see reference 2)
Like most industries, non profit companies must be able to pay their employees enough to compete with the local cost of living. For example, an executive director for a non profit organization in Washington, D.C., may make from $67,356 to $125,454 per year, as opposed to $44,198 to $73,508 in Atlanta, Georgia, as of December 2010, according to PayScale.
Level of Position
At the entry level of a non profit organization are the volunteer positions which of course are unpaid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average of a full time non profit worker in 2007 was $21.68 an hour. Salary positions begin above that at $34,861 a year for an administrative or office manager and $41,064 a year for a program manager. At the high end of the spectrum, the average salary for an executive director is $55,823.
Types of Non-Profits
The type of service provided by the non profit organization is probably the biggest factor in justifying a salary base for employees. Companies that require higher levels of expertise to carry out their service will pay more. As of December 2010, PayScale reports that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, primarily to mentor young people, has an average salary of $32,287 per year. However, the American Red Cross has many employees specializing in medicine, construction, and other areas of expertise and has an average salary of $41,201. Large differences in payment also exist by employer type as well. The national average for non profit employees at a hospital is $57,672, whereas a college or university non profit will only pay an average of $44,954.