The Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Nonprofit Executive Compensation Study 

As covered in the Charlotte Ledger, Next Stage launched this project as a response to challenges repeatedly brought forward through its work facilitating strategic planning and executive searches for area organizations. Talent acquisition and retention is a priority across the nonprofit landscape. How to fairly compensate nonprofit staff leadership is a challenge that boards and executive directors wrestle with across organizations of every size, budget and mission focus.


What's Inside The Report?

In this report, readers will find research culled from the 990 forms of over 150 local nonprofits, insights gleaned from more than 40 participants in an in-depth survey, and commentary provided by 11 executives who agreed to one-on-one interviews. Criteria for inclusion in the study include being headquartered in Mecklenburg County and having revenue of more than $350,000. This research forms the basis of findings that are outlined throughout. Highlights include:


Dispelling the myth that nonprofit chief executives are driven primarily by passion over pay, the vast majority (92.7%) of organizations surveyed note that base compensation is important to their overall job satisfaction.

  • Other compensation, including benefits, are offered by just 60% of the organizations surveyed.

  • The Education and Environment & Animals sectors lag behind the Health and Human Services sectors.

  • The boards of nearly 30% of organizations surveyed lack a formal assessment process for the chief executive that is tied to annual compensation. And based on stakeholder feedback, those that do are relatively recently formed or are not well-designed.
  • Less than 40% of organizations surveyed offer a pay-for-performance or bonus structure to their chief executive

About Next Stage: 

Next Stage is a Charlotte-based social good consulting firm that has partnered with more than 160 local organizations to design strategy and processes that build strong organizations and fuel community change. Learn more about our services.