Newly released 2019 Canadian Nonprofit Sector Salary & Benefits Report reveals current compensation trends

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Editor's Note: Click here to download the report's Table of Contents and Executive Summary.

Compensation at nonprofits across the country continues to rise slowly for some nonprofit professionals, according to the new 2019 Canadian Nonprofit Sector Salary & Benefits Report. To better understand nonprofit compensation, we surveyed more than 1,500 participants who represented more than 12,000 individual employees from nonprofits across Canada. The results are gathered in our 2019 salary and benefits report, now available for online purchase.

The findings are helpful for both sides of the hiring equation: Hiring managers can compare their compensation offerings with other organizations of similar size, sector and location, while individuals can research salary and benefit packages by similar criteria to confidently discuss salary expectations with current and potential employers. Information in the report is generally broken out into six different job levels.

Here are some highlights from the 2019 edition:

Cash compensation continues to grow slowly for many

Since 2016, average compensation has increased for senior management, functional/program staff and among support staff. At other levels, compensation declined or remained stagnant. Looking at the sector in general, compensation is growing slowly. Over the seven-year period from 2011 to 2018, compensation has grown at an average rate of 0.4% to 1.8% per year, depending on the level.

Organizational focus impacts average compensation

At all levels except for support staff, health-related organizations are among the leaders in cash compensation. Children/family organizations are also near the top for chief and senior executives. The highest average compensation for functional/program staff is provided by arts and culture organizations.

Larger communities generally equal larger salaries

Average compensation at all levels generally increases with the size of the community in which employees are located. However, as seen in previous studies, the premium tends to be higher at the more senior staff levels. The highest pay for four of the six levels is found in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The two exceptions are management/ supervisory staff and support staff, where Ottawa ranks first and the GTA ranks second.

Benefits continue to be an important part of the compensation package

Three quarters (76%) of participating organizations provide health benefits to at least one level of staff. Health benefits are least common among Chief Executives and most common among senior management and management/supervisory staff.

Half (50%) of participating organizations offer retirement benefits. Senior management are the most likely to receive these benefits, followed by management/supervisory staff. The value of retirement benefits, when offered, ranges from 4.3% to 5.3% of cash compensation depending on level.

Education is highly valued by organizations and employees

The results continue to show that sector employees are a well-educated group. With the exception of support staff, 84% or more have completed at least some post-secondary education. As seen in past studies, higher education generally correlates to higher compensation, particularly if the degree/diploma is relevant to the job. At all levels, a relevant certification brings higher cash compensation. The difference is most notable for senior executives.

Three-quarters of Chief Executives and eight in ten staff at other management levels have education benefits available to them. The same holds true for just under two-thirds of non-management staff.

Pay gap remains significant but is slowly shrinking

The results continue to show that men earn more on average than women at all management levels. While the largest gap continues to be at the Chief Executive level, the gap is lower than in 2017, and is at the lowest level in the history of the study. As in past studies, further analysis shows that the compensation gap between men and women reflects the fact that men employed in the sector are more likely to work for larger organizations, which tend to pay better than smaller organizations.

Learn more about the 2019 Canadian Nonprofit Sector Salary & Benefits Study and how it can help you and your organization.

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