2015 CACF Executive Directors Compensation Survey

The Chinese American Community Foundation launches the first Bay Area Asian American executive directors compensation survey.


Nonprofit organizations and their leaders provide much needed support to the Asian American community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Deep satisfaction in helping others and the desire to create positive social change drive many individuals to join the sector. Like any sector though, nonprofits need to attract, recruit and retain well-qualified leaders. Aside from passion and dedication, competitive compensation and attractive benefits support this goal.

Relevant and timely data is required for us to begin the discussion of competitive compensation and benefits. Several annual surveys address the pay and benefits of nonprofit organizations nationally and within the state of California, but none to date have focused on compensation levels within Asian American communities. At the request of community organization board members and executive directors, the Chinese American Community Foundation explored the possibility of creating benchmarks to use for our community.

In March 2015, we asked Bay Area Asian American groups to participate in an online survey to learn more about their organizational practices regarding executive compensation. We are pleased to share the results of the 2015 CACF Executive Directors Compensation Survey with you.

The survey was sent to 89 organizations and twenty-nine responded to our survey, representing a 33% response rate. Below are some findings:

* 21% of the executive directors in this study were founding directors.

* 44% had been in their position for 10 or more years and only 20% had served in a similar position in another organization.

* The survey found the median salary for executive directors in this group was $90,000. In comparing the median salary with the 2014 Fair Pay for Northern California Nonprofit study ($128,253) and the 2014 Charity Navigator (west coast states) salary survey ($125,000), respondents to this survey are making approximately 30% less than nonprofit executive directors responding to the two comparison studies.

* 82% of respondents receive health insurance (not including dental or vision), 75% receive paid time off, and 61% receive retirement benefits.

This survey also suggests potential need for succession planning in the participating nonprofit organizations as 71% of current executives are between the ages of 50 and 69, and 44% of executives have been in their position for 10 years or more.

Download the 2015 CACF ED Compensation Survey (8 pages).

Running a nonprofit organization requires an individual that possess an understanding of the services it provides and the beneficiaries it serves as well as a high level of fundraising and management expertise. My fellow board members of the Chinese American Community Foundation and I also believe that specific skills, such as sensitivity to language access, knowledge of cultural norms, the ability to engage networks and relationships, and other understanding of issues relevant to immigrant communities are required to effectively lead in our community. Thus, these specialized skills should be considered as part of the executive compensation package if we are to retain, recruit and develop effective leaders.

– Buck Gee, Treasurer, CACF

ED Luncheon