Monday, June 22, 2009

Where's My Nonprofit Job?

Once upon a time, a common refrain you would hear from someone working in the nonprofit world is "the pay isn't so hot but the job is very rewarding." Well, that's not at all true in the Indianapolis nonprofit world. Fellow blogger Paul Ogden has a great run down of the big six-figure salaries area nonprofits heads are pulling down. Many of these jobs are funded largely by government contributions. Here's who they are and what they're earning based on the most recent tax returns the organizations filed that are publicly available:

  • Maxwell Anderson, President, Indianapolis Museum of Art ($394,209)
  • Mark Myles, President, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership ($382,133)
  • Robert Bedell, President, Indiana Convention & Visitors Association ($353,777) (Bedell has retired and subsequently been replaced by Don Welsh, who I'm sure earns a comparable salary)
  • Jeffrey Patchen, President, Indiana Children's Museum ($344,345)
  • Simon Crookall, President, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra ($250,224)
  • Ron Carpenter, President, Children's Bureau of Indianapolis ($178,298)
  • Greg Charleston, President, Indianapolis Arts Council ($170,391)
  • Tamara Zahn, President, Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. ($198,284)
  • Lloyd Wright, President, Indianapolis Public Broadcasting ($180,451)
  • Danny Dean, President, Indianapolis/Marion Co. Library Foundation ($178,907)
  • Susan Williams, President, Indiana Sports Corporation ($137,719)
  • Cindy Porteous, Executive Director, Indianapolis Parks Foundation ($112,219)

Often, local media will rely on these organization heads for their opinions on taxpayer-financed projects, such as the Capital Improvement Board facilities, funding for the arts, and economic development incentives to some private businesses. If it involves an expenditure of taxpayer money or raising taxes for one of their projects, they're out front advocating for it. The irony is that many of these organization heads' salaries are financed, in part, by our taxpayer money. In the case of the ICVA, IDI, CICP and the Indiana Sports Corporation, for example, most of the funding comes directly or indirectly from government sources. It doesn't seem right that these nonprofits can take money paid by all taxpayers and turn around and use that money to pick winners and losers in the endless game of government spending and taxation for the benefit of a select few. Also, salaries of the government-funded nonprofits heads often exceed salaries persons with comparable responsibilities within government are paid.


Mike said...

Great story!

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I'd love to hear your and your readers' feedback if you get a chance to visit our site!


POPA said...

It's easy to demonize people for lucrative salaries in the "non-profit" field, but don't we have to know what the private sector would pay them to know if they're overcompensated. Take Lloyd Wright with WFYI. If he ran Channel 6, how much would he make? If he has been there for a while, isn't it possible he's a steal for his experience?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I would hope Wright's counterparts in the private sector make more. Their stations have to turn a profit or they are out of a job. Their viewership and revenues far outpace Wright's station.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm sorry, IPOPA, the head of the children's choir in Indy makes $111,000 a year. They probably spend half their budget on salaries. There's something wrong with that any way you slice it.

It should be emphasized to that these organizations singled out are living high on taxpayer money.

Sarah said...

Its true that some non-profit CEO types are heavily compensated. But, there is a reality that the lines between non-profit and for profit are increasingly blurry. Its true that 3rd sector businesses do not generate a profit (per se - many of them do carry revenue from one FY to the next), but as their boards become packed with business people who are used to measuring worth in terms of profit, we (non-profits) have to find another measure. Usually that is donations, attendance, and people served. Note: this is NOT the same as mission met - you can serve millions, and still not hit your mission.

NP CEOs are in a situation where they have to move and shake with the leaders of major businesses. And while these Indiana leaders may seem overpaid, keep in mind that the director of the Metropolitan Opera in NYC makes 1.2 MM. The CEO of the Met museum made nearly $800,000 annually, plus got a $4 MM bonus on retirement.

We are quick to write off the hard work that goes into leading these institutions, simply because they are non-profit. Like any business, compensation helps attract the best. This keeps Indianapolis growing as a cultural destination, and keeps its 3rd sector strong.

That said, keep in mind that the vast majority of non-profits in Indiana do not receive direct government support, but rather grants - most of those federal. Also, for the most part, employee salaries are paid from raised money/operating costs/endowed funds.

Finally, for every highly paid CEO, there are hundreds of volunteers or employees making minimum wage who are working their tails off for their organization. Don't be so quick to want a non-profit job. We don't all cash in, trust me.

Gary R. Welsh said...

If you check out who sits on these NFP boards, you will see the names of the same people resurface over and over again. There is a little clique of people who run in the same social circles and have financial/professional ties that dominate all of these nonprofit boards.

Paul K. Ogden said...


"If you check out who sits on these NFP boards, you will see the names of the same people resurface over and over again. There is a little clique of people who run in the same social circles and have financial/professional ties that dominate all of these nonprofit boards."

Bingo. That's the reason why the salaries are so high, not the reason Sarah suggests.

Anonymous said...

Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, makes $32,000 a year.

Admin said...


What salary should everyone make, comrade?