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 2019 survey has 253 larger organization participants (more than $5,000,000 in annual expenses).

The survey is especially useful to larger nonprofits because of extensive information that the Internal Revenue Service requires on 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 participate in Fair Pay for Northern California Nonprofits: The 2018 Compensation & Benefits Survey and acquire the survey report for a fraction of this amount.

Every year, we add jobs requested by survey participants. Additions in recent years include a group of executive-level jobs as well as new jobs in the Animal Welfare, Cultural/Performing Arts, Education and Environment/Conservation areas.

Smaller Nonprofits

The 2019 survey has 361 smaller organization (less than $5,000,000 in annual expenses) participants, compared to 371 in 2018.

A number of smaller nonprofits that -- 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 qualified employees. All without the need to pay for an expensive human resources department or consultant.

Rural County Nonprofits

In 2018, the survey benefitted from a significant increase in North Coast participants (Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Del Norte counties), doubling the thirteen participants in 2017 to 26. We rewarded their nonprofits by grouping them in a new geographic area in the 2018 survey report, the North Coast.

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).

For 2020 we're making a special effort to increase participation levels among Central Valley nonprofits and are working with our regional partners in this region. Please help us make the survey as valuable as possible for nonprofits in the Central Valley and throughout Northern California by participating in the survey and encouraging one or more of your fellow nonprofits to do so. You’ll be glad you did.