7 Richest CEOs of Nonprofits

The word “nonprofit” might not conjure to mind the jetset lifestyle, but nonprofit leaders can’t work for free. It takes talent to channel millions in donations into charity programming.

Many nonprofit leaders are highly trained professionals with huge demands on their time. Still, most charity donors don’t realize they might be funding a CEO-level salary. Watchdog groups like CharityNavigator and CharityWatch dig into nonprofit tax returns every year to see just how much dough flows to the C-suite and found that 17 charities paid their CEOs over $1 million last year.

Here’s a list of the top nonprofit CEOs making millions. Are these execs worth their paychecks?

7. Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide

President and CEO Brian Gallagher made a comfortable $1.2 million last year heading the popular United Way. The “world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit,” the United Way works to improve health, education, and incomes for communities in the USA and in 32 other countries around the world. Gallagher moved up the ladder from a lowly management trainee at the United Way to his current million-dollar role.

Gallagher holds an MBA from Emory and an honorary degree from his undergraduate alma mater Ball State. Gallagher certainly has a lot on his plate raising two young daughters and serving on four different boards in his spare time.


6. C. Wayne Brock, Boy Scouts of America

Turns out professional scouting can be a lucrative career path. Chief Scout Executive C. Wayne Brock earned nearly $1.3 million leading the Boy Scouts in 2014. Brock, who hold only a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, worked his way up from a local Scout district executive to the Chief Scout position while moving around states in the South.

Brock retired this year after a 43-year scouting career. He received quite a few awards during his tenure including the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award – and his scouting vest is probably decked out in badges. The North Carolina native and his wife have a son and granddaughter.

5. John R. Seffrin, Past CEO, American Cancer Society

Seffrin’s final year as CEO of the American Cancer Society netted him $1.4 million. While that seems steep for the head of an organization based largely on individual donations, this sum seems paltry compared to his $2.4 million salary in 2012. CharityWatch says the record-breaking 2012 paycheck, which included a $1.5 million retention bonus, “is the second most money given by any charity of the head of that charity.”

Dedicated to eliminating cancer, the American Cancer Society has millions of volunteers and receives countless individual donations annually. For Seffrin, the mission is personal — he lost both his grandmother and mother to cancer. During his tenure, Seffrin helped the Society fight back aggressively against the tobacco industry and created the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Seffrin worked his way up from a volunteer position and retired in 2014 after a total of 40 years with the Society, serving 20 of those years as CEO. The Ball State alum is also CEO of the American Cancer Society’s political advocacy arm, the Cancer Action Network. He helped create national cancer policy during his time with the National Dialogue on Cancer, co-chaired by President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, and served on the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Board. He holds an honorary doctorate from his alma mater and lives with his wife Carole, a breast cancer survivor, in Georgia.

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