Can't find that high salary? You're looking in the wrong place

If you have been busy stalking LinkedIn connections and staring at Forbes in the hope that you will get ever closer to a highly paid role in a Fortune 500 company, then you’ve been going about things in a pretty obvious fashion, haven’t you? Just because a company doesn’t make a lot of money doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pay well. A new salary survey says it might be time to widen your view.

The not-for-profit sector has just been surveyed by Pro Bono Australia, and one thing is clear: it certainly pays to look beyond profits. Pro Bono surveyed over 1,400 respondents across the 13 most common roles within non-profit organisations in order to paint a picture of salary sizes and what factors affect them.

If we make a rough comparison between these Pro Bono results and a variety of current SEEK salary ranges for roles across all kinds of private, not-for-profit and public sectors, then we start to get an interesting picture. Despite the fact that not-for-profits are more focused on delivering services than turning dollars, the numbers suggest they can pay just as well as the private sector.

It’s a tendency that is also reflected in public sector wages, which, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, are on average $128.20 more a week than their private sector counterparts. Not only that, almost every single average salary listed in the Pro Bono Australia report was above the national average salary of $77,932.40.

When you consider that sizeable salaries can sit alongside the sector’s favourable tax benefits, it seems clear that you can do some good and get paid for it, too. With this news, you might even think things are starting to look pretty good outside of the corporate world. But just how good would a change be for you? No one knows your own worth better than you, so check the breakdown before you make a break for it.

Highest paid not-for-profits

The highest paid sectors in not-for-profit terms appear to be mental health, health care and disability, followed by education, where the average CEO is earning well over $120,000. In fact, in mental health, health care and disability the average wage for service managers through to CEOs was over $100,000.

Lowest paid not-for-profits

According to Pro Bono, the lowest paid NFP sector is, perhaps unsurprisingly, arts and culture/heritage. However, the ABS reports, across private companies and not-for-profits in the same sector, that the average wage is $72,098 – this is less than the average wages listed for CEOs, general managers, administration managers and marketing managers in the not-for-profit survey. 

Average qualifications

Most respondents had a bachelor’s degree (43 per cent) followed by a master’s degree (25 per cent). With the national average of bachelor degree holders at just 29 per cent, the not-for-profit sector appears to be a highly educated workforce. So if you’re thinking of jumping the fence to the do-gooder side, you might want to upskill first.

Can we compare salaries?

Can we compare not-for-profit and average salaries?

CEO salaries

Remuneration tends to increase with operating budget with the highest average remuneration registered for those working with budgets from $10 million to $50 million.

The lowest average total remuneration was for budgets less than $500,000.

Total remuneration also tends to increase with greater numbers of employees. While the lowest average figure is $105,711 for organisations with five or fewer employees, this increases to an average of $200,149 for organisations with over 100 employees.

The highest paid CEOs in the not-for-profit sector can be found in mental health (averaging $201,992), followed by health care ($146,746), animals and wildlife welfare ($143,451), children and youth ($143,251) and aged/community care ($143,039).

The lowest paid CEOs are found in arts and culture/heritage ($94,349), followed closely by human rights/overseas aid ($96,644).

Bonuses and incentives are only provided in 15 per cent of cases, and these averaged just seven per cent of the total package.

Where to be a CEO? Average wages were highest in Western Australia ($141,628), followed by New South Wales ($133,369) and Victoria ($132,087).

General manager salaries

Remuneration tends to increase with operating budget, with those operating a budget of over $50 million receiving an average of $169,352.

Total remuneration also tends to increase with greater numbers of employees. While the lowest average figure is $79,750 for organisations with five or fewer employees, this increases to an average of $157,118 for organisations with over 100 employees.

The highest paid general managers in the not-for-profit sector can be found in mental health (averaging $174,911), followed by education ($167,444), research/medical research ($155,291) and Aboriginal/Indigenous ($146,312).

The lowest paid general managers are found in arts and culture/heritage ($72,447), followed by volunteering ($96,420) and environment/conservation ($112,621).

Bonuses and incentives are only provided in 10 per cent of cases, and these averaged just six per cent of the total package.

Where to be a general manager? Average wages are fairly even across the states, with Western Australia slightly ahead of the rest.

Finance manager/treasurer salaries

Remuneration increases significantly with operating budget, with those managers working with a budget over $50 million per annum receiving an average salary of $177,520.

Total remuneration also tends to increase with greater numbers of employees. Finance managers/treasurers earn an average of $99,920 in organisations of 20 employees or fewer, but this increases gradually to reach an average of $141,651 for organisations with over 100 employees.

The highest paid finance managers/treasurers in the not-for-profit sector can be found in health care (averaging $126,960) and education ($126,823), followed by multidisciplinary service providers ($124,009), children and youth ($123,415) and disability ($123,365).

The lowest paid finance managers/treasurers are found in environment/conservation ($90,735) and peak bodies/professional associations ($91,634).

Bonuses and incentives are only provided in 10 per cent of cases and these averaged just 5.5 per cent of the total package.

Where to be a finance manager/treasurer? Average wages appear to be lower in South Australia ($100,300) and New South Wales ($104,782) than in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, where they are all over $120,000.

Marketing/fundraising/communications manager salaries

Remuneration increases gradually with operating budget, and significantly once that budget is over $50 million per annum. Marketing/fundraising/communications managers in such organisations receive an average salary of $151,990.

Total remuneration also tends to increase with greater numbers of employees, however, the highest average salaries are for organisations of between 21 and 50 employees ($101,061) and over 100 employees ($120,359). Organisations with between 51 and 100 employees paid similarly to the smaller bracket of between 21 and 50 employees.

The highest paid marketing/fundraising/communications managers in the not-for-profit sector can be found in research/medical research (averaging $134,224) and multidisciplinary service providers ($130,018), followed by human rights/overseas aid ($109,436), disability ($106,604) and education ($104,376).

The lowest paid marketing/fundraising/communications managers are found in arts and culture/heritage ($74,891), environment/conservation ($77,799) and religious organisations/charities ($85,122).

Bonuses and incentives are only provided in 10 per cent of cases and these averaged just seven per cent of the total package.

Human resources manager salaries

Remuneration appeared to increase gradually with operating budget – an average salary increase from $76,435 for organisations with budgets between $500,000 and $2 million to $118,066 for organisations with budgets between $10 million and $50 million.

Total remuneration also tended to increase with greater numbers of employees, moving from $87,757 for organisations of between 21 and 50 employees through to $119,882 for organisations with over 100 employees.

Due to a smaller number of respondents for this role, average remuneration was provided for those working in disability ($110,998) and health care ($117, 885), with other sectors averaging $94,890.

Bonuses and incentives are provided in 15 per cent of cases but these averaged just one per cent of the total package.

Where to be a human resources manager? Average wages were only determined for Victoria ($93,300) and New South Wales ($118,379), so it is more useful to look at the number of employees for individual organisations in this case.

Services manager salaries

Remuneration appeared to increase significantly with operating budget – an average salary increased from $64,021 for organisations with budgets of less than $500,000 to $130,497 for those with budgets of over $50 million.

Total remuneration also tended to increase with greater numbers of employees, moving from $72,100 for organisations of less than five employees through to $113,192 for organisations with over 100 employees.

The highest paid services managers in the not-for-profit sector can be found in multidisciplinary service providers (averaging $115,845) and health care ($110,161), however it is one of the only roles to have consistent salaries across sectors.

The lowest paid services managers are found in aged/community care ($83,621), followed by other sectors ($90,304) and community and family services ($96,255). All other sectors averaged around $100,000.

Bonuses and incentives are provided in just 11 per cent of cases but these averaged 6.5 per cent of the total package.

Where to be a services manager? Average wages were only determined for Victoria ($97,248), Queensland ($98,846) and New South Wales ($102,613), so it is more useful to look at the number of employees and budget of particular organisations in this case.

Convinced there’s the perfect not-for-profit out there for you? Enquire about an online community services or social work course and start making a difference from wherever you are.


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