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. 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.

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 (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 research. 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 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 my 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 promnotes 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 call 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 in the Charity Watch top 25 list, but their CEO apparently earns $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 for their CEO salary at 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, as Red Cross offers, but reflects a dissolution of the middle class and increasing wealth disparity in society. I'm not a socialist, but I am against the kind of corrupt crony capitalism we have today that tends to exploit the poor and middle class in order to make the 1% even richer.
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."

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