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2020 Compensation & Benefits for Philanthropy-Serving Organizations

Publication date: 
September, 2020

We are currently collecting updated data and expect the full report to be released in September 2021. Please contact Ivana Bikombe to learn more about how to update your PSO's information.

United Philanthropy Forum’s 2020 Compensation & Benefits for Philanthropy-Serving Organizations report provides comprehensive benchmarking data and analyses on the employment practices of regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs).


2020 Compensation & Benefits for Philanthropy-Serving Organizations

United Philanthropy Forum’s 2020 Compensation & Benefits for Philanthropy-Serving Organizations report provides comprehensive benchmarking data and analyses on the employment practices of regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs), based on the responses of 55 PSOs. The 2020 edition of the report also includes updated key metrics on PSO board demographics and PSO revenue and expenses. Key findings include:

PSO Staff Diversity

  • PSOs Are More Diverse than the Field They Serve. Forty-four percent of PSO staff are people of color, largely consistent with 2019 and up from 34 percent in 2017. This figure is higher than the 40 percent of the U.S. population and 27 percent of foundation staffs who identify as people of color.  Moreover, for the first time people of color represented a majority of staff members among national PSOs responding to the survey. For the chief executives of PSOs, 39 percent are people of color—well above the 10 percent share reported for the CEOs of U.S. foundations and 13 percent for CEOs of U.S. nonprofits overall. PSOs have shown leadership in diversifying their organizations and should continue to diversify their staffing at all levels, particularly at the senior leadership level. It should also be noted that there is little representation on PSO staffs of Middle Eastern/Arab Americans, Native Americans/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders
  • PSOs Are Predominately Female. Among all regional and national PSOs, just over three out of four PSO staff positions (76 percent) are held by women. This share nearly matched the 77 percent of U.S. foundation staff positions held by women.  The share of staff positions held by women was higher for regional PSOs (81 percent) compared to national PSOs (73 percent). Among the CEOs of regional PSOs, women accounted for 73 percent of positions. For national PSOs, women also represented a majority of the CEO positions reported (56 percent), although their share was markedly smaller.

PSO Staff Retention & Recruitment

  • PSOs Are Unlikely to Grow Much in 2021. In the past 12 months, 35 PSOs reported creating a total of 85 new staff positions—or more than one-fifth of all staff positions reported. However, only 6 percent of all PSOs plan to add at least one staff position in their next fiscal year. By comparison, 42 percent of PSOs responding to the 2019 and 2018 surveys anticipated adding staff. This undoubtedly reflects the onset of a potentially long-lasting recession resulting from the need to shut down large segments of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with uncertainty as to when social and economic life will return to normal.
  • Many PSO Staff Are Relatively New to Their Roles. Of the permanent PSO staff positions reported in the 2020 survey, nearly half (48 percent) of these staff members have been in their positions for two years or less. More than one-fifth (22 percent) of PSO staff have been in their roles for less than one year.
  • Fewer PSOs View Staff Turnover as Accelerating. The rate of PSO staff turnover appears to have slowed somewhat according to survey respondents. Less than one-fifth of PSOs (18 percent) perceive the turnover rate as being higher than two years ago, down from 27 percent of PSOs in the 2019 survey. Moreover, a majority of 2020 survey respondents (52 percent) consider their rate of turnover to be at about the same level, which is consistent with the share reported for 2019. Nonetheless, PSOs reporting staff turnover in the 2020 survey indicated a median of two staff transitions, consistent with the 2019 survey but up from a median of one staff transition reported for the 2018 survey. 

PSO Staff Working Location

  • More PSO Staff Are Working Remotely. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on where PSO staff are working was evident in the latest survey data. In the 2020 survey, just under two-fifths (39 percent) of PSO staff were identified as working on site exclusively, down markedly from about three-fifths (59 percent) in the 2019 survey. It will not be clear until after the COVID-19 pandemic ends whether the crisis has had a lasting impact on where PSO staff work.

PSO Board Diversity

  • PSO Boards Are Growing More Diverse. Forty-three percent of PSO board members identify as people of color—up from the 41 percent share reported for the 2019 survey and 33 percent shares for both the 2018 and 2017 surveys. This figure is nearly double the 22 percent of nonprofit board members across the country who identify as people of color

Customized Benchmarking Reports

Our members who do not find the specific information they need in this report can request customized benchmarking reports based on information included in the survey. Please contact Ivana Bikombe (202-869-4327).

Learn More

Forum Blog

Forum President & CEO David Biemesderfer shares reflections on some key findings from the report in his latest blog Forum Members Make Progress on Diversity, As Bigger Challenges Remain to Address Racial Equity in Philanthropy.

Download the Report