We have nothing against high pay for CEO’s. It’s not a low-stress job: the buck of responsibility stops with them. And there’s a reason not everyone gets to be a CEO: in successful companies, the CEO is a visionary who has a lifelong record of making smart, strategic decisions. In other words: CEO’s are valuable and often indispensable to the success of a reasonably sized company.
And like it or not, being the CEO of a Charity isn’t very different than being the CEO of a company. There’s still the stress. Still the responsibility. Still the unique task of setting the high level organizational vision and making big decisions. Still the numbers to meet.
Nonetheless, there’s something that feels viscerally wrong about the CEO’s of charities getting paid high salaries:
Unlike businesses that exist fundamentally to make a profit, one of the goals of a charity should be to minimize administrative overhead and maximize dollars that go to work on the ground. There’s something of a catch 22 going on in the world of charity because on the one hand you want to incentivize the administration to maximize fundraising goals and meet other benchmarks, but at the same time you don’t want to seem like gluttons.
The moral of the story: being the CEO of a big time charity is going to come with increased scrutiny and hopefully your primary motivation is going to be the company’s mission, and not your payday.