Looking For Some Nonprofit Compensation Resources?


By: Drew McManus

In: Catch All

Figuring out your value as an arts manager is difficult in a field where budgets vary almost as much as the process boards use to determine compensation policies. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be such a dark and scary place. To that end, here are some resources you can use to help shed some light on this topic.

IRS Form 990

For executive level openings, you can gather a considerable amount of information by examining an organization’s IRS Form 990 filings. Each nonprofit must provide a public inspection copy of their 990 upon request but let’s get realistic, you aren’t going to look great as a potential candidate by asking for that sort of documentation right out of the gate. Instead, head over to Guidestar.org and create a free account which will let you access the three most recent 90 filings for any nonprofit in their database (it’s pretty big).

Pro Researcher Tip: You want to look for Part VII – Compensation of Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, Highest Compensated Employees, and Independent Contractors. This will provide you with most executive level employees earning $100,000 or more and in many cases, nonprofits list employees below that threshold as well. You should always take the time to read through all of the information but another section to keep an eye out for is Schedule J, Part III (which lists expanded compensation info on individuals listed in Part VII). Lastly, be sure to check out the sections toward the end with supplemental info, you can sometimes uncover some useful info about executive perks.

State Nonprofit Agencies

Another source, albeit less reliable and may require a membership, is a state based nonprofit association. The National Council of Nonprofits maintains a database of such agencies you can use to help track down info you’re after.


Glassdoor is a nice option for those looking at entry and mid-career level positions. Keep in mind, however, their data is drawn directly from user input so there’s the whole grain of salt thing but it is certainly better than nothing. Nonprofit info can be hit and miss but on the bright side, initial poking around is free of charge while continued use and reaching into archived data will require a paid account.


[box]Full disclosure mode: this is my blog on orchestra management and listing it here in no way is an indication that other contributors at ArtsHacker endorse or recommend it as a resource.[/box]

Now that we have that out of the way, each June features a week-long series of articles that examine the compensation trends among orchestra executives, music directors, and concertmasters at more than 65 professional U.S. orchestras.

It’s 100 percent free and there are no upsells, registrations, etc. If you’re looking for an executive level position in the orchestra field, this is likely a resource you’ll want to bookmark. The Orchestra Compensation Reports have been published each year since 2005 and you’ll find some archived data but only the most recent year’s results are available in full.

Pay For It

A number of providers offer some sort of pay-wall or custom compensation reporting service. Before you shell out any money, be sure to acknowledge that these resources as entirely caveat emptor and many harvest data directly (and exclusively) from IRS 990s (which you now know those are free).

One option is The Economic Research Institute, which maintains a dedicated nonprofit compensation data service.

Guidestar offers a pair of services, a static report and a Nonprofit Comparables Assessor which…wait for it…links to the Economic Research Institute service (surprise!).

The Nonprofit Times provides a salary report drawn from volunteer entered data.

Compensation Report Resource

One More Thing…

If you’re interested in some thought-provoking insight on nonprofit compensation practices, head over to Vu Le’s Nonprofit With Balls where he weighs in on the topic every now and then.

That’s it!

Are there any additional resources you use? If so, stop holding out you greedy bastard!

No, in all seriousness, share the wealth and post something about it in the comments.

Drew McManus
Drew McManus
In addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower. With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists. For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.
Author Archive

Leave a Comment