Now Available: 2021 Salary Data for Southeast Grantmakers

By Stephen Sherman

One of our most popular member benefits – regional salary data for foundation staff and CEOs – has just been updated on!

Each year, SECF partners with the Council on Foundations (COF) to produce salary benchmarking reports for foundation staff and CEOs in the Southeast. These reports include the average, median, minimum and maximum salaries for a range of 36 staff positions at all levels in foundations based in the 11 Southeast states. Salary tables are organized by both grantmaker type and asset size to provide quick access to comparable data for foundations of all shapes and sizes.

You can view this data now under the For Members section of our website – or access the information directly here ( login required).

Salary information for 2021 is drawn from data on nearly 10,000 full-time paid staff at over 900 organizations across the United States. The South region accounted for 27 percent of all respondents.

Thank you to all SECF member organizations that responded to the 2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey earlier this year, providing the valuable benchmarking data that informs these reports.

As a reminder, organizations that participated in the 2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey can download the full national report from COF’s Benchmark Central and also access the benchmarking tool to run salary, benefits, and demographics comparisons by asset size, grants, geographic location, and grantmaker type.

This year’s Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Report highlights the ways in which the crises of 2020 impacted internal operations at foundations across the country. Key findings include:

  • A higher share of responding foundations reported offering “other” voluntary benefits – such as tuition assistance or flexible spending accounts – in addition to health insurance and retirement funds.
  • More than a quarter of responding organizations stated that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in determining how staff bonuses were awarded.
  • Concerns from last year about hiring freezes and pay cuts seem to have dissipated, as 85 percent of respondents reported a pay increase in 2020 and all respondents planned to provide increased compensation in 2021.
  • New data showed some movement toward diversification of foundation CEOs and program officers after years of stasis.
  • At the same time, female executives continue to earn less on average than their male counterparts, suggesting more work must be done to achieve pay equity in philanthropy.

The national GSB Report also includes data on benefits and incentive compensation for foundation employees, staff size for grantmakers by type and asset level, staff tenure and turnover rates, and CEO-specific compensation practices. Learn more about the 2021 GSB Report here.

If your organization is interested in participating in next year’s study, look for the GSB Survey to open in March 2022.

Stephen Sherman is SECF's Director of Research & Data.


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Mission: Philanthropy Southeast strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.