Publications & Products
Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 8.4



Salary packages need to be developed in accordance with the general guidelines of your institution and be an appropriate reflection of the responsibilities of each role. There should also be equity across the development team.

When determining salary, especially as you set the overall development office budget and look at creating equity across the development team, be sure to plan forward. Forecast at least three years of potential salary adjustments, any supplemental benefits and additional staff positions to help ensure the office’s sustainability.

Average Salaries

The human resources (HR) function of your institution can generally provide salary guidelines. CASE also provides two key industry resources to help benchmark appropriate compensation:

  • A salary report, produced by CASE Europe in March 2012, where 337 institutions responded that for all advancement-related disciplines, the median salary was £39,003 and mean salary was £46,106. Of the 128 respondents whose primary responsibility was development and fundraising, the median salary was £41,250 and mean salary was £45,492. CASE members can access the full results of the 2012 CASE Europe Salary Survey, where salaries are analysed by experience, age, management status, discipline, institutional characteristics, sub-areas of responsibility, etc.
  • A North American Compensation Database with details about the salaries and benefits of more than 4,400 advancement professionals.
Commission-based Salary

Commission-based salary for fundraisers, based on a percentage of funds raised, is not recommended for a number of reasons:

  • Commissions can encourage inappropriate conduct by fundraisers anxious to secure gifts at any cost, whether or not those gifts meet the objectives of the institution they serve.
  • Commission-driven fundraisers could potentially draw salary well above an equitable level in relation to services rendered when, in the final analysis, it is the institution and not the fundraiser that both attracts and merits charitable support.
  • The long-term cultivation of major gifts could be jeopardised by fundraisers seeking a swift donor response to benefit their personal income goals.
  • Potential major donors may be discouraged when they realise that a percentage of their donation will go directly to the fundraiser.
  • Commission fundraising discourages the use of volunteers or other cost-effective methods that would improve your institution’s fundraising ROI.
  • Since charities do not know exactly what motivates a donor to make a gift, it is difficult to determine the amount of salary to which a fundraiser might be entitled under a commission/salary arrangement.
Supplemental Benefits or Bonuses

Supplemental benefits or bonuses are a form of additional, performance-based payment beyond base salary, designed to motivate and recognise positive employee performance and/or the achievement of specific goals. They can be a helpful incentive for staff but should not be given lightly.

Managers need to assess the value of the work in the context of the team-based nature of fundraising. CASE has developed a set of guidelines for institutions that wish to offer performance related bonuses:

  • Bonuses should not be expressed as a percentage of individual gifts or aggregate giving, since doing so would constitute a commission.
  • Bonuses should be based on pre-set goals that have been clearly stated and agreed-upon in advance by the employee and the institution. Note that this guideline is not intended to preclude bonuses for exceptional individual or team achievement that may be allowable under an institution's payment policies.
  • Goals should be related to the fundraising context, given that potential to raise funds and associated effort required may vary widely across positions and operating units.
  • Bonuses should not serve as a replacement for base salary or result in under-payment of employees who meet their job expectations.

Action Items
  • Work with HR to determine general guidelines for salary packages. Resources, such as those from CASE, can provide more specific benchmarking.
  • Depending on your institution’s policies, you may want to consider supplemental benefits or bonuses.
  • Forecast beyond the current year to help ensure sustainability of the current and anticipated staff salary packages.

You Might Also Want to Read:

Preparing and managing the budget
Recruiting the right people
Staff performance management
Working with human resources