Nearly two out of three top executives in nonprofit trade associations in farm, food and fuel are reaping the benefits of increased compensation packages.
Robert Skelton, vice president of administration for American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), attributes increased salaries to a variety of reasons
“It’s helpful that the economy seems to be improving. We see some growth,” Skelton says, “and that’s a good thing overall.
“The amount of government relations activities with various government actions drives more expertise on the lobbying side,” Skelton says. “There’s more of a need for what associations do. That’s not going to be cheap. You have to pay a little more for that.”
Skelton says the “Great Recession” held some people up from retiring, too. Now as CEOs are retiring, organizations are filling openings – and, on average, spending more as there is more competition for the number of people who have the necessary skills.
The ASAE reports in its 2014-2015 Association Compensation and Benefits Study that the median base salary (not total compensation) for association CEOs is $175,000, up from the $169,309 reported in its 2012-2013 study. ASAE represents more than 21,000 association executives and industry partners from some 10,000 organizations.
Our Agri-Pulse CEO listing this year includes almost 20 additional nonprofits not listed in our 2013 CEO salary report. Of the 70 organizations included in last year’s listing, nearly two-thirds report increases in executive compensation while about 15 percent report decreases. Base pay increases from last year range from less than $2,000 to more than $188,000.
The biggest increase in total compensation went to Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who now receives more than $3 million, including 2013 bonus pay and investments in a 401K. Bailey is carving a unique niche in the C-suite, where the majority of offices have traditionally been held by men, and she’s scored some high-profile victories – defeating GMO labeling initiatives in both California (2012) and Washington State (2013). This is the third year her compensation has topped the list of food, farm and environmental organization salaries reviewed by Agri-Pulse.
About 15 percent of the organizations listed in our 2013 and 2014 studies reported decreases in total CEO compensation, ranging from about $2,300 to more than $300,000. However, it’s important to use caution when comparing salary levels with last year’s report. Before 2012, 990 reports often double-counted retirement and deferred compensation when calculating total compensation, inflating some total results.
To see how other CEO salaries compared, Agri-Pulse worked primarily with GuideStar and its database of 990 forms, which the Internal Revenue Service requires for nonprofits with more than $50,000 in gross receipts. Other salary reports came directly from trade organizations, from the National Center for Charitable Statistics and Citizen Audit, or in the case of national checkoff leaders, the USDA. Some of these compensation listings are not of the most current year, but show the most current reported figures publically available.
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