Press Release

New Report Sheds Light on Age Gap, Lack of Diversity in the Philanthropic Sector

Council on Foundations Releases Annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report

The largest and most comprehensive report in the United States on grantmaker staff composition and compensation was released today by the Council on Foundations and highlighted a lingering age gap that exists within the philanthropic sector.

The 2016 Full Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report provides position, salary, benefits, and demographic information on independent, family, community, and public foundation employees as well as corporate grantmakers. The findings are based on responses to an online survey of 1,010 grantmakers, which reported salaries on a total of 9,945 full-time paid professional and administrative staff members.

The report offers insight into the field’s current recruitment, retention, and talent and leadership development needs. It shows that racial and ethnic minorities continue to be underrepresented at all staffing levels and that significant gender and age gaps still exist within the philanthropic sector.

“The philanthropic sector is teetering on the edge of a workforce sustainability cliff. Our long-term viability as a sector is now directly linked to the field’s ability to attract, develop and retain a new generation of philanthropic professionals,” said President and CEO Vikki Spruill. “If grantmakers are to reflect the communities they serve, they must be more intentional about their efforts. This means focusing on recruiting and retaining more racial and ethnic minorities and women in leadership positions as well as on attracting and developing a new pipeline of philanthropic leaders.”

Key findings:

  • Almost nine-tenths of grantmakers increased salaries in 2015 and three-quarters planned salary increases for 2016
  • The median salary increase for both 2015 and 2016 was 3 percent
  • Since 2012, median full-time staff salaries have risen 7 percent before factoring in inflation
  • Over one-third of full-time staff were 50-64 years old, about 6 percent of full-time staff were at or above retirement age, and approximately 11 percent of full-time staff were under 30
  • Women represented over three-quarters of reported grantmaker staff and over half of CEOs in 2016
  • Among the largest grantmakers, women represented fewer than half of CEOs
  • Racial/ethnic minorities comprised 10 percent of CEOs
  • Median reported salary for all full-time positions was $77,561 in 2016
  • Median reported salary for full-time CEO/CGOs was $175,000 in 2016
  • Almost half of CEO/CGOs were permitted to make discretionary grants
  • Two-fifths of grantmaker CEOs have held the position for 10 years or more
  • One-quarter of CEOs were promoted from within their organizations
  • The median Program Officer position tenure was three years
  • Almost half of respondents reported no staff departures as of the beginning of 2016
  • The overall staff departure rate for all respondents (including those with no departures) was about 7 percent

Foundations and corporate giving programs use the Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report to plan their budgets, benchmark their personnel policies and practices, determine salary levels for new and existing staff, and understand the demographics of the talent in the field more broadly. Later this summer, the Council will release a report that specifically examines the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the sector. 

To read the report, visit


About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

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