How the Survey Serves All Kinds of Nonprofits
in All 48 Northern California Counties

We survey a vast geographic area, 48 Northern California counties, from Del Norte County in the far northwest to Inyo County in the far southeast.

And we make special efforts to serve both larger and smaller nonprofit organizations, as well as those from both urban/suburban and rural counties:

Larger Nonprofits

The 2017 survey has 249 larger organization participants (more than $5,000,000 in annual expenses), compared to 221 in 2016.

The survey will be especially useful to larger nonprofits because of extensive changes that the Internal Revenue Service has made to the annual Form 990 tax return.

Since 2001 the IRS has encouraged charities to go through a set of steps to ensure that executive compensation is set appropriately. On the revised Form 990, the IRS has standardized reporting to make comparing salaries easier and requires charities to provide information about the process they use to set the salaries of employees who receive $150,000 or more in total compensation.

The survey will help you navigate through this process and will be a primary tool to help you document the rationale you use to set the salaries you pay your executives.

Conducting your agency's own compensation and benefits survey to satisfy IRS requirements would cost you a small fortune, maybe as much as $5,000 to $10,000 to engage a consultant to provide some usable comparables. A much better alternative is to acquire Fair Pay for Northern California Nonprofits: The 2017 Compensation & Benefits Survey Report for a fraction of this amount. It's a no-brainer!

As a special bonus, in 2015 we added four new executive-level jobs unique to larger organizations: Chief Communications Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Information Officer. In 2016 we added new jobs in the Administration, Animal Welfare, Cultural/Performing Arts and Education areas. 2017 additions include a new group of Environment/Conservation jobs.

Smaller Nonprofits

The 2017 survey had 351 smaller organization (less than $5,000,000 in annual expenses) participants, compared to 361 in 2016.

A number of smaller agencies who, because of their size don’t have a human resources department, have told us that just participating in the survey is well worth the effort, even if they don't decide to purchase the survey report. The exercise in itself is like an annual human resources self audit and enables an executive director and their board of directors to get a quick and complete snapshot of their organization's own compensation and benefits policies and practices annually. In short, it helps them attract and retain the best and brightest employees. All without the need to pay for an expensive human resources department or consultant.

Rural County Nonprofits

The 2017 survey had 91 rural county nonprofit organization participants, compared to 71 in 2016 and 60 in 2015.

Historically, many nonprofits from rural counties have not participated in the survey, and therefore don’t feel that it is of much use to them. In our mind, it’s a chicken and egg thing. If more would participate, it would be of more use to them. If few do, it isn’t.

Participation is free so participate to make the survey more robust and useful to your fellow nonprofits. If you don’t want to purchase the survey report, you can look at it for free at your closest survey regional partner (click here for a list of regional partners).

Urban/Suburban County Nonprofits

509 nonprofits from Northern California urban/suburban county nonprofit organizations participated in the 2017 survey, compared to 511 in 2016 and 487 in 2015.

The survey traditionally has done extremely well in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley urban and suburban counties.

For the 2017 survey, we made significant progress in increasing our participant numbers in the Central Valley:

  • Sacramento/Sacramento County and the surrounding counties of El Dorado, Placer and Yolo. We had 53 participants from these four counties in 2017 compared to only 43 in 2016.
  • Fresno/Fresno County and the surrounding counties of Madera, Mariposa and Tulare. We had a total of 18 participants from these four counties in 2017, compared to ten in 2017 and only five in 2015. However, the participant numbers in these four counties are far below the number we need to produce data that will make the survey report useful to nonprofits in this area so it's a work in progress.

We’re working with our regional partners in the Central Valley, from north to south, to increase the number of survey participants in this region. Please help us out by participating in the survey and encouraging one or more of your fellow nonprofits to do so. You’ll be glad you did.