December 03, 2016

17 Charity CEO Salaries Over $1-Million - Listed 2016

It's that time of year again when people tend to give more to charities. Considering that their ads often give the impression that money you send to them will be used to help poor and suffering people, the following salaries seem excessive and may even be considered unethical. I was unable to locate a comprehensive 2017 salary chart for CEO salaries, but Charity Watch lists 25 excessively paid charity CEOs, with the first 17 names on the list receiving over $1-million per year in annual salaries, as their most recent 2016 summary. This coincides with increasingly dramatic income inequality in society. I'd like to add a caveat that this is merely pointing out what is listed on other sites, and I cannot vouch for the reliability of these.

17 Charity CEO Salaries Over $1-Million

1. Craig B. Thompson, M.D. President/CEO Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center $2,925,426 12/31/2014
2. Robert W. Stone President/CEO City of Hope $1,765,025 09/30/2015
3. Edward J. Benz, Jr., M.D. President/CEO Dana-Farber Cancer Institute $1,539,789 09/30/2015
4. Nancy Brown CEO American Heart Association $1,443,427 06/30/2015
5. John R. Seffrin Past CEO American Cancer Society $1,404,269 12/31/2014
6. Wayne Brock Past Chief Scout Executive Boy Scouts of America ( BSA National Office) $1,351,724 12/31/2015
7. Yitzhak Gershon Past National Director/CEO Friends of the Israel Defense Forces $1,282,949 12/31/2014 Includes $631,251 bonus and incentive compensation.
8. Rupert W. Scofield President/CEO FINCA International $1,281,285 12/31/2014 Includes $339,574 one-time vested retirement benefits and $493,615 tax gross-up to cover related taxes.
9. Cristian Samper President/CEO Wildlife Conservation Society $1,190,755 06/30/2015
10. Jonathan W. Simons, M.D. President/CEO Prostate Cancer Foundation $1,182,091 12/31/2015
11. Brian Gallagher President/CEO United Way Worldwide $1,166,454 12/31/2015
12. James W. DeMint President Heritage Foundation $1,132,367 12/31/2015
13. Larry Hausner Past CEO American Diabetes Association $1,125,689 12/31/2014 Includes $210,833 severance.
14. Robert J. Beall Past President/CEO Cystic Fibrosis Foundation $1,100,581 12/31/2014 15 Arthur Brooks President American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research $1,075,493 06/30/2015
16. Harry Johns President/CEO Alzheimer's Association (National Office) $1,062,149 06/30/2015
17. James R. Downing President/CEO St. Jude Children's Research Hospital $1,042,217 06/30/2015

Out of curiosity, I visited the website of the charity at the top of the list. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) website requests that givers "make an impact" at this "critical moment" in "tackling cancer" as "funding is vital" (see attached webclip). And then another page outlines "Your gifts at work" with several ways that "your gift allows" such and such to occur, related to doctors and researchers. What I find most unique about this charity, however, is that my gift would allow the CEO to have what is listed at Charity Watch as the largest CEO annual compensation of all non-profit charities, an astounding $ 2,925,426 a year.

When I went to a Firestone car mechanic recently, I was asked if I wanted to donate to the Boys and Girls Club of America. Out of curiosity, I checked the CEO salary for them and saw an article showing that their company has a history of huge CEO compensations, with $988,591.00 in compensation in 2008. And a Home Goods cashier asked me if I wanted to donate to another charity that offers outrageous salaries. I suppose that the third-party retailers get a cut of the "profits" for raising "non-profit" funds.

Here is a question: Is it ethical to ask for "vital" charity donations to help "people in need" -when the CEO is getting $1-million to $2.5-million a year as annual compensation?

A Biblical Perspective on Giving

From a biblical perspective, we are admonished in Scripture to help and provide for the poor and suffering.  Proverbs 19.17 states, "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done." And Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan also promotes helping those in need. However, there is also a warning in the New Testament about deceit in charity giving.  The account of Ananias and Sapphira describes how God severely judged the fraudulent manner in which funds were offered. And pretending that gifts are going to directly help those in need, when in reality a large sum is going to excessive salaries, appears to be deceitful. Scripture calls us to be wise stewards of our income. This requires some research into the charities we donate to. Without research, for example, one may not know that Amnesty International is increasingly anti-Western in its actions. And that their parting CEO was given $760,000., which many have called unreasonably high.

The Increasing Income Inequality in Society

The American Red Cross is not listed in the Charity Watch top 25 list, but their CEO apparently earns or makes $500,000. per year. They adamantly defended their CEO salary, while proposing that it is the norm for such CEOs:

"The president and CEO of the American Red Cross is Gail McGovern, and her base salary has remained $500,000—without any pay increase—since she joined the American Red Cross in 2008. This is considered well within the range for executives of large non-profits like the Red Cross, a $3.3 billion organization." Likewise, UNICEF went on the defensive describing their CEO salary on their website: "As President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Caryl Stern earns $521,820. She does not have a company car; she drives a 2007 Prius which she purchased in 2009." And people are curious about World Vision, with their emphasis on feeding starving children. World Vision President Richard Stearns earns $451,254. a year (2015), according to Charity Navigator. Recently, when asked by a cashier to donate to St. Judes Children's Research Hospital, I looked up their CEO salary and Daniel Starks' total pay was $6.72-million in 2012 and CEO William E. Evans received $1,299,281. in 2014, while presently CEO James R. Downing earns a salary of $484.4K. plus a bonus of $306.9K.

The fact is, there has been an increasing income disparity in society and CEO salaries have been rising astronomically above average working-class incomes as a reflection of this. The Washington Post offers that income inequality is now likely the highest in US history. The Post outlines that the problem has increased since the nation's founding: "In his chronicle of the young United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville famously said that “nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people.” Pew Research came to the conclusion that US income inequality is the worst since 1928. So, in a historical perspective, this inequality is not the norm in the big picture, as Red Cross offers, but reflects a dissolution of the middle class and increasing wealth disparity in society. Is there such thing as "fair compensation" for charity CEO's? Is there a difference between "earning money" and gratuitously excessive compensation?

I'm not a socialist, but I am against outright corrupt crony capitalism in government and business, excessive lobbyist influence, and misleading fundraising that appears to unethically exploit the poor and middle class in order to make the 1% even richer. According to Forbes: "The average annual income of the top 1 percent of the population is $717,000, compared to the average income of the rest of the population, which is around $51,000." So, this 1% term is not literal and exact. $500,000. is 10 times the average U.S. salary. And while this is half the salary of other charity CEOs, it is questionable if this annual sum could be considered sacrificial in the big picture, as implied by the Red Cross and other charities.

By contrast to these more excessive salaries, the Salvation Army CEO salary seems more reasonable, according to this quote from a 2016 article: "W. Todd Bassett, National Commander of the Salvation Army, was paid (along with his wife, who also works for the organization) an estimated $94,091 in salary and benefits in 2003 (including house and car). (Source: Fayetteville Observer)". The best approach is probably to look at a charity website and see if they have the CEO salary listed.

The following chart reflects this historical perspective and perhaps a need to make adjustments. The large organizations are not being forced to provide these excessive salaries, this has simply become normalized. To give one example of wealth inequality statistics, "The top 1% owned approximately 40% of the wealth in 2012, versus 23% in 1978."

As shocking as these charity CEO salaries may seem, they are about 13 times smaller than the average US CEO salary in general. The average of about $14-million per year is pretty astounding so I will post an actual quote from GlassDoor from 2015:

"Across all companies, the average CEO pay was $13.8 million per year, the average median worker pay was about $77,800, and the average ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay was 204."

This further underscores that there is a serious income disparity in the United States.

Tags: Top paid charity CEOs 2016, Highest paid charity CEOs, list of highest paid charity CEOs 2016, Charity CEO salaries over one million dollars, top CEO incomes, income inequality 2016, Bible verses on giving, scriptural giving, salary of UNICEF CEO, 2016 American Red Cross CEO salary, salary of Red Cross CEO, Gail McGovern salary, World Vision CEO salary, president salary compensation, 1/2 million salary for CEO, salary of Craig B. Thompson, Richard Stearns' salary, St. Judes Children's Research Hospital CEO salary, charity CEO incomes, how much does St. Jude CEO make? Salvation Army CEO salary, CEO Salary Chart, Brian Gallagher salary, United Way CEO salary, BSA CEO


Christian Charities' CEO Salaries that Support Disaster Relief


  1. These massive salaries for "charitable" organizations are simply outrageous and fly in the face of the meaning and sentiment of the word "charity". No problem with a "decent" salary for a hard working CEO of a charitable organization - $75,000 to $100,000 would be fair in today's economy, but the millions some CEO's are making are sinful. They should hang their head in shame.

    1. I completely agree. Compensation for charity work should not be like winning the lottery year after year.

    2. These CEOs are not doing charity work, they are managing the charity work done across the nation. Big difference. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of $350k is reasonable. You get what you pay for.

    3. Good points, Sheila.

      One of the main problems seems to be the extreme disparity between worker payment and management payment:

      "Across all companies, the average CEO pay was $13.8 million per year, the average median worker pay was about $77,800, and the average ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay was 204. In other words, on average, CEOs earn around 204 times what his or her median worker earns."

    4. It is outrageous that these CEOS earn so much. I give to the local Salvation ARMY and the local Thanksgiving Basket, and even there I have seen whole families feeding on this free food when they can well afford to make their own dinner. I might stop giving to them if that continues.

    5. I only give to the Salvation Army!

  2. Thank you for this information which many of us had no knowledge! I, as a senior citizen, on pension & Social Security, cannot possibly afford to send to any charity - of which I receive
    dozens of requests per year!! They prey upon emotion & guilt to collect monies🤑.

  3. I am certainly glad to about all the salaries the Ceo's get. It makes me not want to give to these anymore, just give to the local charities in my city. Thank you for the information

  4. What can we do to stop the exorbitant salaries these CEOs take? Let's start another charity and pay the CEO $77,000 per year. That is a lot of money for most of us. OR let's give to our churches and let them help the needy. I believe that most churches give ALL the money collected to humanitarian efforts. The church leaders do not take a salary. Let's STOP giving to the companies listed above!!!! How do we get the word out?

    1. Just the fact that you were willing to post a comment is helpful. People will read it and think about it. That is what grassroots change is all about, people taking initiatives in making an improvements. Who knows, maybe you will be the one to begin a charity with a dedicated cap on CEO compensation as an example for others. :)

  5. I just started a charity. By no means do I intend to make millions while people lay in the streets starving, unable to afford a decent meal, or roof over their heads! God forbid!

  6. Out of thousands of dollars of your expenditure, how many do you think you donate for the betterment of the poor? There are a lot of people waiting for your support to stand in the society. Ccopac is an organization that is helping these people and is always available for their support. So please donate money at ccopac and support the homeless.

  7. Guys, these aren't some small town, mom and pop charities. These are multi-million and even Billion dollar organization. Organizations this size require professional talent with PhD's and many many years of hard work and experience. These Orgs would not be where they are today if they did not employ the best talent they can just like any other business. The average urban area hospital ceo makes $1.7 million...thats almost twice what the ST Jude ceo makes...he is a world recognized doctor. He could literally make 4-5 times that working anywhere else. Their salaries may not seem like pay cuts to you because YOU didnt go through the PhD process, YOU didnt invest all that they did to acquire the skills they have, and YOU dont have what it takes to head a billion dollar business or else you would be doing it already.No one is going to work for 20-40 yrs building a career and being one of the best in their field just to work for free. These people are getting paid at the low end of what someone with their exact skills usually makes. Any one of these ppl can make hella money any where else. As someone working on their accounting PHD, I can either make $100,000-$400,000 at a non-profit (i have checked) or I can work somewhere like autozone and make $500,000- 2 million easily. An accounting manager in the navy makes $1 do you get the picture? And no I dont come from a wealthy family, I worked 2-3 jobs since I was 15 to pay my way through school until I got a good job after by BA. So completely non bias here

    1. You, Anonymous, seem to make serious and false assumptions:

      "YOU didnt invest all that they did to acquire the skills they have, and YOU dont have what it takes to head a billion dollar business or else you would be doing it already."

      How do you know what capacities I have? Just because I did not choose to devote my life to becoming a CEO does not mean I could have if that was my objective.

      And I don't believe your argument in general. Just because other FOR-PROFIT CEOs make a killing in salaries, for me this does not logically follow that non-profit ones should also. I agree with the opinion in general that income disparity is becoming ridiculous in some cases and I personally would not want to support a charity or business that is a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.

    2. Perhaps, I can clarify for all.... Non-profit charities should be headed by people dedicated to the cause, not the paycheck. I am sure you can find many qualified people with that purity of thought. Jesus said that the pure in heart will see God (Mat. 5:8). Aren't American charities really just simple extensions of this Christian value?

    3. I don't cared if you have you have a PHD or have gone to school all your life, there is no one worth that kind of money....really??? I keep hearing you get what you pay for, well the people needing the donations sure as hell aren't getting what they are paying for, it's going into some fat cats bank account. I agree with Wild Willie.


  9. Anonymous is telling a fib there is no way a doctor can make that kind of salary I researched ER doctors make between 280.000 to 450.000 a year that's no where near the salary he justified in his comment I also know many people more qualified and brighter that don't have a PHD titles and degrees don't represent the true consensus stop the fairy tale

  10. I used to donate generously to the USO as well as my church, other churches, and a few other charities. Most were local to my area but of course USO a major charity. I increased my donations as my income increased. Then I decided to look into the details of salaries of those in charge of these charities. I was SHOCKED at the salary of the CEO of the USO. So I sent a letter in one of the solicitation envelopes USO regularly sent me, saying: I will no longer donate due to the outrageous salary received by your CEO. They next sent multiple letters with some sort of response asking for more donations. I never sent another penny. THEN I received a phone call from a woman who said she was "flying into Houston" and would love to talk with me about my "concerns." I thought "WOW! Not only is the CEO grossly overpaid but they can hire a woman to fly around the country to visit recalcitrant donors!" I said "No thanks, you're part of the problem." And hung up. I'll never give another cent and several of my family members have served/do serve in the military. Whatever the USO does is not what it COULD do if it focused on our military with all those extra dollars!

    1. Hi,
      If you're interested in supporting our Troups (God Bless & protect them!), you might consider redirecting your USO donation to:

      DAV Charitable Service Trust,

      which is highly rated by Charity Navigator & whose President receives no compensation. Thx for posting this info & commentary, Blog Writer! ~Brenda

  11. I don't know how all the charities got my address I want you all to stop asking me for help I'm a tree hugger and I have too throw a lot of mail away besides that I don't have a job !!!

  12. I don't know how all the charities got my address I want you all to stop asking me for help I'm a tree hugger and I have too throw a lot of mail away besides that I don't have a job !!!


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