Forum Journal & Forum Focus

Management: Salary Survey of Nonprofit Preservation Groups 

03-07-2019 13:39

Encouraged by the National Council of Preservation Executives, the National Trust surveyed 151 local and thirty-four slate preservation organizations last summer to determine the compensation packages of their two top management positions. While the Trust had conducted similar surveys previously, this would be the first devoted solely to private nonprofit state and local preservation organizations. The survey only examined compensation of the two top professional positions to increase the similarity of position types and responsibility levels.

Response to the survey was good—eighty- one local and twenty-four state organizations participated. In addition to salary, the survey tracked benefits, compensation practices, recruiting strategies, work experience, and education.

COMPENSATION RESULTS

The survey revealed a number of compensation trends among statewide and local preservation organizations, several of which are highlighted below:

  • a lag between the year of incorporation and the first year of operation with paid staff
  • statewides, on average, pay higher salaries than local preservation organizations
  • a direct correlation between pay and size, higher salaries being associated with larger annual operating budgets and higher membership levels
  • the second professional at a statewide or local organization with an annual operating budget greater than $250,000 earns on an average more than the top manager of an organization with a budget less than $250,000
  • organization finances and inflation are the primary determinants of salary increases

The majority of individuals in the two types of positions surveyed work full-time schedules. Among statewides surveyed, seventy percent of individuals in the top management position and sixty-four percent of those in the second professional position work full-time schedules. Local organizations responded that eighty-six percent of the individuals in the top management position and eighty-three percent of those in the second professional position work full-time schedules. According to the Trust survey, the average salaries for individuals working full-time schedules are:

Top Management Positions

  • Statewides - $43,838

Budget Exceeds $250,000 - $53,250

Membership Exceeds 2,000 - $50,600

  • Locals - $34,286

Budget Exceeds $250,000- $52,223

Membership Exceeds 2,000 - $47,742

Second Professional Position

  • Statewides - $30,689

Budget Exceeds $250,000 - $34,625

Membership Exceeds 2,000 - $34,500

  • Locals - $25,487

Budget Exceeds $250,000 - $35,800

Membership Exceeds 2,000 - $31,025

One of the most critical issues statewide and local preservation organizations will face is in the area of benefits, which play an important role in establishing job stability within any organization.

Health Insurance

  • 63% of statewides
  • 63% of locals Pension Plans

Life Insurance

  • 50% of statewides
  • 28% of locals

Pension Plans

  • 13% of statewides
  • 7% of locals

Long-Term Disability

  • 17% of statewides
  • 14% of locals

Vacation Leave

  • 75% of statewides
  • 89% of locals

Sick Leave

  • 63% of statewides
  • 77% of locals

PROFILE OF PRESERVATION GROUPS SURVEYED

Though our primary purpose was to establish a standard of reference among preservation groups for compensation comparisons, the survey results provided a snapshot of the non-profit side of the preservation movement, including the membership, budget, and staff size of statewide and local organizations.

Budget Exceeding $250,000

  • 50% of statewides
  • 25% of locals

Membership Exceeding 2,000

  • 26% of statewides
  • 8% of locals

Staff of at Least Five Paid Positions

  • 42% of statewides
  • 28% of locals

We expected to learn that a significant percentage of operating budgets are consumed by staff compensation. Although a number of the respondents commit large portions of their budgets to staff costs, we also learned that many organizations commit their resources in other ways. As a comparison, the National Trust spends forty-four percent of its annual operating budget on staff compensation (salaries plus benefits).

Organizations Spending Less Than 50% of Budgets on Staff Costs

  • 46% of statewides
  • 53% of locals

The results also confirmed the relative youth of the organized private preservation movement.

PROFILE OF PRESERVATION PROFESSIONALS SURVEYED

Likewise, the youth of the preservation profession was evident in a profile of the work experience of the two top positions. Furthermore, the contrast between total work experience and time spent in the historic preservation arena suggests career change among respondents.

Top Management Position

  • 81% with more than ten years of total work experience
  • 32% with more than ten years of experience as a preservation professional

Second Professional Position

  • 75% with more than ten years of total work experience
  • 17% with more than ten years of experience as a preservation professional

A corollary can be made through the diversity of educational backgrounds of preservation professionals. Given the growth of preservation programs in the past decade, we might project an increase in the next decade of individuals placed in the top positions with a preservation degree.

Preservation Degrees

  • 24% of the individuals in the top management positions
  • 33% of the individuals in the second professional positions

Since the survey’s publication, the National Trust Office of Human Resources has received a number of comments stating how helpful the results have been in providing ammunition with which to approach boards about compensation issues. The Trust will update the information in 1992. We hope to improve and expand it to meet the needs of the organizations that utilize the information.

The complete survey may be obtained by contacting the National Trust Office of Human Resources; a $5 fee will be charged to cover the costs of printing, handling, and mailing.

 

Publication Date: May/June 1991


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Author(s):Greg Coble
Volume:5
Issue:3