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Why do CEOs of charities make six figure salaries?

There have been countless leadership scandals in the evangelical Christian world that have left many people jaded and suspicious of those who lead charities, churches and other faith-based organizations.

Just one look at the (in)famous Instagram account @PreachersNSneakers, where church leaders are seen wearing designer clothing and limited edition sneakers, leaves us feeling unsettled. A lack of accountability in leadership structures has often led to financial mismanagement, corruption, abuse and sexual misconduct.

So why do CEOs of charities continue to make six figure salaries, especially Christian charities? 

Let’s start off by saying Tearfund Canada values financial integrity. Every dollar and cent that is donated to us is seen as a gift from God, and not ours to exploit. That’s why we share every audit on our website and show exactly how your money is being spent. You can learn more here.

At Tearfund, our leadership is held to the highest accountability standards set by our board of directors. Our board, who are all volunteers, help us run the organization in the most effective and efficient way possible. They set salaries for our leaders, and have the final authority on whether our leaders are effective or not.

Our CEO is responsible for 11 staff, managing up to 12 million dollars, and regularly works with government, churches, financial institutions, marketing programs and more. The CEO regularly travels to meet with donors, speak at churches and see our poverty-alleviation projects firsthand. The work is often very demanding with long hours and mental stress. In a for-profit setting, a CEO would and does make much more money performing the same responsibilities.

Tearfund follows a policy where the CEO can only make 3X the salary of the lowest paid staff in the organization. Tearfund’s CEO also makes about the average salary as other relief and development organization CEOs in Canada. You can check out other organizations audits and financial reports and see for yourself. All the information is readily available either on their websites or through the Canada Revenue Agency.

We believe that leaders deserve proper compensation for the amazing work that they do. But we also believe that they must be held accountable. Workers in the nonprofit and charity sector deserve a liveable wage, and that includes CEOs and people in leadership positions.

We are so grateful for the way Tearfund’s donors continue to support our work ending extreme poverty. We’re grateful for the ways our supporters join us as we follow Jesus where the need is greatest.