Fundraisers play a crucial role in the nonprofit sector by ensuring their organizations are adequately funded. However, like many nonprofit professionals, they are often overworked and underpaid compared to their private-sector counterparts. 

A study found that 43% of nonprofit employees in New England make less than $28,000 per year, far less than a living wage for families with children. Such low wages and earnings can eventually lead to workplace burnout and high employee turnover rates within nonprofits.

Fundraisers can, and should, advocate for better compensation for their work. To do so, they should know the average salary for their specific fundraising roles and understand the factors behind the numbers. This way, they can make their case from an informed perspective. 

Similarly, nonprofits need to know the factors that go into determining salary for fundraisers. A better understanding of the importance of fundraisers to the nonprofit sector and how much they ought to be paid can help improve the quality of conversations about compensations and salary transparency within the sector. 

This article highlights the essential information fundraisers and nonprofits need to know about salaries for fundraising roles and the factors to consider when deciding how much fundraising staff should earn.

Note: This article has been adapted from KIT’s 2022 Fundraising Salaries Guide, an exhaustive list of the salaries and experience required for various fundraising positions. Download the complete guide to see where you stack up against your peers. 

The Importance of Fundraisers to Nonprofit Success

Fundraisers hold a unique bargaining power in their organizations, as their work directly impacts nonprofits’ bottom line. Unlike other nonprofit staff, fundraisers have a quantifiable metric for highlighting their contributions: dollars raised.

In other words, as a fundraiser, you have the power to demonstrate how much you’re worth based on how much you raise. Fundraisers can wield this power responsibly to advocate for appropriate compensation, improve their quality of life, be more productive, impact more communities and hopefully motivate other nonprofit employees to advocate for themselves.

If nothing else, hopefully, fundraisers will use this article and our salary guide to have more conversations about compensation. Although talking about salary can be uncomfortable or even framed as impolite, the only way to increase investments in nonprofit talent is by first talking about why the current investments and compensations aren’t acceptable. 

After all, every nonprofit employee and consultant deserves to work for an organization that cares as much about them as they care about its mission. 

Download the Complete Fundraising Salaries Guide​

Get free access to a list of current fundraising salaries, including charts that show trends over time and educational resources that you can use to sharpen your fundraising skill set.

5 Factors to Consider When Decided a Fundraiser’s Salary

Establishing fair salary ranges for nonprofit jobs is crucial for nonprofit budgetingtalent recruitment, and staff retention. On the other hand, fundraisers should have a detailed understanding of the job market to advocate for appropriate compensation. 

To define a fundraiser’s salary range, you need to take into account the following variables:

1. Geographic Location

Salaries vary depending on the province/state and city you’re located in, primarily because of the cost of living. For instance, the base salary for Directors of Development in New York City is $91,887, about $25,000 more than $66,603, the national average for Directors of Development.

2. Organizational Size

Large nonprofit organizations tend to pay higher wages because they receive more robust funding, invest more in their employees, retain more talent, and achieve better organizational stability. Organizational size is also correlated with organizational type, as certain types of nonprofits, such as health care and education organizations, tend to be larger than average.

3. Organizational Type

As hinted at above, the kind of work an organization does has a significant impact on its employees’ compensation. For instance, health care and education-focused organizations can afford to pay higher salaries as they’re well funded, have many career development opportunities, and have a renowned public image.

4. Duties and Responsibilities Involved

Employees who take on a high level of responsibility are routinely paid more than their subordinates. The same can be said for employees with rare and valuable skills, such as consultants, who tend to earn more than those with more common professional backgrounds. 

5. Qualifications and Experience

As you’ll see in the example salary trend graph featured below, salaries depend on the years of experience a position requires. In addition, education levels obtained from colleges and universities and certificates, like CFRE, can also increase compensation.

How Much Do Fundraising Professionals Make?

This section of the article lists five fundraising positions, amongst many others, that are featured in our 2021 salary guide. The data in the guide was obtained in September 2021 from PayScale. It is based on information provided by 7,682 American respondents and 473 Canadian respondents. 

Keep in mind that the salaries listed do not include other forms of compensation such as bonuses, profit-sharing, and other benefits. 

Average Fundraising Salaries in the United States

Job TitleAverage Salary (USD)
Fundraising Assistant$42,396
Fundraising Manager$54,882
Fundraising Consultant$68,250
Fundraising Director$60,960

Average Fundraising Salaries in Canada

Job TitleAverage Salary (CAD)
Fundraising Assistant$39,980
Fundraising Manager$58,818
Fundraising ConsultantN/A
Fundraising Director$61,762

1. Fundraising Assistant

Average Fundraising Assistant Salary: $39,980 (USD) | $42,396 (CAD)

Fundraising Assistants are typically responsible for providing administrative support to the fundraising team. They perform various tasks, including donor communications, organizing direct mail campaigns, or updating CRM databases and receipt records. They may go on to become Database Administrators, Fundraising Coordinators, and Operations Directors. 

CountryAverage SalarySalary RangeAverage Entry-Level SalaryRequired Educational Experience
USA$39,980$32,000 – $48,000$36,000High School Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree
Canada$42,396$39,000 – $52,000N/A*High School Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree

*Limited data likely affected the absence of an experience level graph and lack of entry-level data. 

2. Fundraiser

Average Fundraiser Salary : $51,727 (USA) | $50,951 (CAD)

While the position of “Fundraiser” seems a bit too vague to be generalized, understanding what the average fundraiser looks like is a great way to create a benchmark to base the salaries of other positions. For example, a Fundraising Assistant is likely to make less than a Fundraiser, while Fundraising Managers and Annual Giving Managers are likely to make more.

A fundraiser’s work varies and depends on their organization’s programs, strategy, and mission. They may be responsible for door-to-door solicitations, campaign development, event planning, and donor stewardship activities. Essentially, they engage with donors at every level of the fundraising funnel and seek to make a positive lasting impression on supporters. 

CountryAverage SalarySalary RangeAverage Entry-Level SalaryRequired Educational Experience
USA$51,727$36,000 – $85,000$41,000High School Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree
Canada$50,951$40,000 – $74,000$42,000High School Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree

3. Fundraising Manager

Average Fundraising Manager Salary: $54,882 (USD) | $58,818 (CAD)

Fundraising Managers develop and implement the nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. They may also lead of team of fundraisers towards achieving set goals and ensure gifts are being solicited effectively. 

CountryAverage SalarySalary RangeAverage Entry-Level SalaryRequired Educational Experience
USA$54,882$40,000 – $75,000$53,000
Bachelor’s Degree
Canada$58,818$45,000 – $74,000$56,000
Bachelor’s Degree

4. Fundraising Consultant

Average Fundraising Consultant Salary: $68,250 (USD)

Fundraising Consultants assist nonprofit organizations with creating a fundraising strategy or elements of a fundraising strategy. They are elite problem solvers, highly skilled, and adept at helping nonprofits engage with donors better to raise more funds within a specific period. 

Fundraising consultants may work directly with a nonprofit consulting agency or as an independent contractor. They may also focus on specific aspects of fundraising, such as Major Gifts FundraisingNonprofit Marketing, or Planned Giving

CountryAverage SalarySalary RangeAverage Entry-Level SalaryRequired Educational Experience
USA$68,250$44,000 – $136,000$46,000
Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree

*Limited data likely affected the absence of an experience level graph and lack of entry-level data. 

5. Fundraising Director

Average Fundraising Director Salary: $60,960 (USD) | $61,762 (CAD)

Fundraising Directors create and oversee a nonprofit’s fundraising team, strategic development, and campaigns. They perform multiple fundraising projects simultaneously, such as implementing nonprofit marketing strategies, contacting donors, monitoring fundraising success metrics, and creating impact reports.  

CountryAverage SalarySalary RangeAverage Entry-Level SalaryRequired Educational Experience
USA$60,960$39,000 – $116,000$51,000

Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree
Canada$61,762$40,000 – $129,000N/A*Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree

Talk to a fundraising expert today to learn more about how Fundraising KIT can quickly and easily help your nonprofit raise more for your cause.

How to Earn More Money as a Fundraiser

In many ways, fundraising professionals are an essential part of the nonprofit sector. They engage donors and raise money that goes a long way to developing our communities. As such, these professionals should be well-compensated. 

Conversations about compensation in the nonprofit sector need to be destigmatized so fundraisers can advocate for greater pay and better quality of life. If fundraising professionals are well compensated, nonprofits can retain more talent and achieve greater organizational stability.

A great way to set yourself up for better compensation is by putting yourself in the best situation possible. As a fundraiser, you can take the following steps to advance your career and earn more money: 

1. Develop your fundraising skill set

As a fundraiser, you should develop a specific skill (Donor segmentation, digital fundraising, database management, planned giving solicitation, etc.) and apply that skill within your day-to-day work. 

Bringing something new, unexpected, and valuable to your organization is a great way to stand out and demonstrate your value. Additionally, this skill can be parlayed into consulting opportunities by offering your expertise to organizations lacking in areas you specialize in. 

2. Seek better paying jobs

Consider working for a large organization. Universities, hospitals, libraries, and other large organizations usually have something small nonprofits don’t: an HR department! Additionally, as large organizations have more funding, you’ll likely be compensated more reasonably. 

3. Ask for a raise

The worst thing that can happen is your boss says no. Check out Eden Stiffman’s article on how to negotiate a higher salary to set yourself up for success.

4. Pave your path

Fourth and most importantly, don’t follow any of these steps if you don’t want to! 

At its core, fundraising is all about generating genuine donor engagement that leads to the development of communities and advancements of causes. This is essential work, and compensation shouldn’t overshadow the day-to-day joys of fundraising. Decide what works best for you—what you want out of the work you do—and stick with it.

Get Your Guide to Fundraising Salaries​

Get free access to a complete list of fundraising salaries including charts that show trends over time and educational resources that you can use to sharpen your fundraising skill set.

Not only do fundraisers play an essential role in nonprofit organizations, but they also inspire generosity in our society. As people who occupy a critical role in society, they deserve to be compensated fairly for their work. We hope this article and the accompanying salary guide can be a conversation starter to encourage better compensation for nonprofit professionals. 

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