The Chronicle of Philanthropy publishes a salary study each year that documents the pay of fundraisers around the nation.  This year, the Chronicle found that two fundraisers exceeded $1 million in pay for the first time ever.  Fifteen fundraisers earned more than $600,000 annually.  This can all be a bit unseemly as casual observers of the nonprofit world wonder how charities can pay their key employees so much.  However, when one reviews the list, you quickly discover that the best paid fundraisers work for universities and hospitals with national profiles.  Moreover, when you compare the development department’s impact on a college, to say, the athletic department, you can quickly see that good fundraisers are often worth the hefty paycheck.

For example, Bo Pelini is the head football coach at the University of Nebraska.  He earns $2.8 million a year and the football program generates $55 million for the University.  Joe Selig, Nebraska’s Senior Vice President for Development, earns $221,000 annually, but his department generated $172 million for the University during the same period.  Pelini is paid over $50,000 per $1 million in University revenue, while his colleague Selig is paid only $1,200 per $1 million in revenue.

Who’s the better deal for Nebraska?