Fair Pay Surveys

Nonprofit Compensation Associates works with local sponsoring organizations to conduct a Fair Pay compensation and benefits survey for their community.

How Local Host Organizations Benefit

Local Host Organizations provide a critical service to their local/regional nonprofit industry that the individual nonprofits cannot provide for themselves. This, in turn, provides rewards to the Local Host Organization such as:

  • Increasing their visibility in the community
  • Collecting data that will their inform your members, funders, policy makers and other stakeholders
  • Generating a new source of revenue for their organization

How Your Community Benefits

A local host provides a valuable community service by bringing the best survey of its kind to nonprofit organizations in their region. Specifically, the survey helps local nonprofits to:

  • Set fair salaries and benefits to attract and retain "the best and brightest" employees
  • Evaluate industry standards for compensation for a range of positions
  • Budget and plan for the cost of adding new staff members
  • Analyze their own jobs and compensation
  • Stand up to the scrutiny of an increasingly skeptical public
  • Compare their salaries and benefits with others in their own geographic community, not with organizations totally out of their local economic market

Thirty-Five Surveys Completed To Date

Pittsburgh & Southwest Pennsylvania

Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, Robert Morris University: 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019

Orlando & Central Florida

Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College: 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island & Adjoining Communities

TSNE MissionWorks: 2010, 2014, 2017

Jacksonville & Northeast Florida

Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida: 2016

Northern California

Nonprofit Compensation Associates: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019


VisionServe Alliance: 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018

The Fair Pay survey is especially useful to your nonprofit community because of extensive changes that the IRS has made to the Annual Form 990 information tax return.

Since 2001, the IRS has encouraged charities to go through a set of steps to ensure that executive compensation is set appropriately. On the revised Form 990, the IRS has standardized reporting to make comparing salaries easier and requires charities to provide information about the process they use to set the salaries of employees who receive $150,000 or more in total compensation.

The survey will help nonprofit organizations in your region navigate through this process and will be a primary tool to help them document the rationale they use to set the salaries they pay their executives.

Conducting their own compensation and benefits survey to satisfy IRS requirements would cost your local nonprofits a small fortune, maybe paying as much as $5,000 to $10,000 to a consultant for some usable comparables. A much better alternative would be for them to acquire a local survey report for a fraction of this amount.

Getting Started

Our staff will work closely with your staff through the entire process, from planning to marketing, implementation and distribution. Once you sign up with us, we will:

  • Provide you with a project timeline
  • Advise you on how to finance the survey, including sharing a case for support you can customize to approach local funders and/or financial sponsors
  • Help you to develop a pricing plan for survey participants and non-participants

What Fair Pay Surveys Clients Say

"The wage and benefits survey that the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University has conducted eight times over the last sixteen years through the excellent work of Rita Haronian and Bob Orser is one of the most practical tools for improving human resource management available to boards and staffs in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our customers report that they have used the study to make fair their salary administration plans, work with their boards to prepare for executive transitions and get the raises they deserve. I could not recommend the study and the consultants that conduct it more highly! This type of study would benefit every region as nonprofits seek to treat their employees with dignity and respect."

Peggy Outon, Executive Director, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, Pittsburgh, PA

"The Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership completed our regional compensation and benefits survey using Fair Pay Surveys in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. We and our participating agencies received excellent customer service throughout the process. We were able to customize the survey instrument and the final report to meet our specific needs. We hope to use Fair Pay surveys every time we repeat the survey. I strongly recommend its use for every community's compensation and benefits survey needs."

Margaret Linnane, Executive Director, Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL

"In 2010 we completed our first compensation survey using Fair Pay Surveys, and then our second in 2014 and third in 2017. We could not have been any happier with the ease of working with Rita and Bob. They provided everything that we have asked for in support of our efforts, from putting us in touch with previous clients, to helping us understand just what we were trying to accomplish and how we could best achieve it using their product - which is extremely adaptable. Throughout the process, it has felt as if they were in the office next to us, even with a 3-hour time difference. We look forward to working with the folks at Fair Pay Surveys again in the future."

Rodney Byrd, Senior Manager, Human Resources, Third Sector New England, Boston

Survey Production and Distribution

Role of the Local Host Organization

  • Publicize the survey to local organizations (e.g. emails, phone calls, distributing flyers)
  • Distribute the completed survey report in whatever way you choose, and publicize it post-publication

Role of Nonprofit Compensation Associates

  • Handle all matters relating to computer operations and the writing of the text of the report
  • Provide you with an electronic copy of a survey questionnaire customized for your community
  • Respond to any questions that arise as participants are completing the questionnaires
  • Collect the completed questionnaires from the participating agencies, who forward them electronically directly to us through our website
  • Provide you with weekly updates of organizations that are completing or have completed the online questionnaire
  • Send you a camera-ready copy of the survey report (estimated 200 pages) and/or computer file not more than 8 weeks after our receipt of the last questionnaire
  • Provide advice on how to market the survey, both to participants before publication and to the general nonprofit community after publication
  • Help you to design a workshop on how to use the survey report so that your local nonprofit organizations get the most possible benefit from the information

The final survey report is published through a joint copyright agreement with us, which allows us to protect our intellectual property against copyright infringement.

What Does a Fair Pay Survey Analyze?

Over 200 positions are surveyed for the entire sample, with more details by:

  • Organization's annual operating budget size (up to 7 categories)
  • Organization's location (up to 6 categories)
  • Organization's field of service (up to 15 categories)
  • Number of employees in the organization (up to 9 categories)
  • Number of employees managed by person in position (up to 4 categories)

Specific data regarding incentive pay is also reported for each position, including eligibility for incentive pay and actual incentive pay given.

All category descriptions are customized to suit the community being surveyed. Additional categories can be added as an option.

Benefits and other policies are reported as well:

  • Paid time off (vacation, sick time, holidays, other)
  • Insurance benefits
  • Retirement benefits
  • Policies regarding compensation and employment practices
  • Executive director/CEO perquisites

The survey will also help your local agencies find out how the local nonprofit community is coping with current economic conditions. Here are some questions the survey will help nonprofit managers answer:

  • How do the salaries paid at their organization compare with those paid at similar local organizations?
  • Are organizations planning to increase salaries during the next year? If so, by how much?
  • Do they see increased competition for "the best and the brightest" employees and employee turnover as significant issues in the year ahead?
  • How common are bonuses or incentive pay for jobs like theirs?
  • Are organizations shifting benefits costs to employees?
  • How do pay levels for male and female executive directors compare?

How Can Our Organization Finance a Fair Pay Survey?

Your income from a Fair Pay Survey could come from one or more of the following sources:

  • Full or partial sponsorship by a foundation, corporation or service provider in your community. The four regional surveys we have produced are all partly subsidized by several foundations. The Northern California survey is sponsored by nine businesses and nonprofit organizations that help Northern California businesses manage better. We would be happy to share with you a three-page case for support that you could use to solicit financial support for this project from local funders and/or sponsors.
  • Sales of the survey report.

For more information about Fair Pay Surveys, including a price quote, contact Rita Haronian at rita@nonprofitcomp.com or call her at 510-645-1005.