Non-Jewish Charities Typically Pay Their Leaders Less Than Jewish Organizations

A First Ever Comparison Reveals Interesting Gaps


A Different Gap: Addison Barry Rand leads the AARP, John Jenkins leads the University of Notre Dame. CEOs of Jewish charities in the salary survey are better paid than their non-Jewish counterparts.
Kurt Hoffman
A Different Gap: Addison Barry Rand leads the AARP, John Jenkins leads the University of Notre Dame. CEOs of Jewish charities in the salary survey are better paid than their non-Jewish counterparts.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Think the top Jewish not-for-profit executives in the Forward’s 2013 salary survey are overpaid? Their colleagues at non-Jewish charitable institutions might agree with you.

According to an independent analysis of the Forward’s annual survey of national Jewish not-for-profits, Jewish executives are paid more generously than executives of comparable non-Jewish charities.

The analysis examined 63 Jewish charities and 16 comparable non-Jewish charities. After controlling for size, the non-Jewish groups were found to pay their male CEOs roughly 80% of what the Jewish groups paid their male CEOs. That discounted salary is closer to what the women who head Jewish not-for-profits earn.

Take, for instance, Miami’s United Way and the city’s Jewish federation. The two groups have plenty in common. Both raise money to spend on health care and disaster relief; both distribute tens of millions a year inside and outside Miami-Dade County. Their offices are just 10 minutes apart by car.

They differ, however, in how they pay their CEOs. While United Way of Miami-Dade is bigger than the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and spent $11 million more than the federation in 2012, it paid its CEO more than $50,000 less. At the federation, Jacob Solomon took home $460,676, while at United Way, Harve Mogul earned $408,698.

Neither group responded to a request for comment.

“[T]hese non-Jewish organizations are systematically paying their executives less than Jewish organizations would,” wrote Abraham Wyner, a professor of statistics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, in his analysis of the Forward’s salary survey. Wyner emphasized that these findings are “not supposed to be publishable research” and describe only the organizations the Forward surveyed. They cannot be applied broadly to all Jewish and non-Jewish charities.

They do help contextualize, however, the Forward’s annual list on the compensation of Jewish charity executives. Wyner’s analysis of the Jewish not-for-profits allowed him to predict a salary based on the size of each organization. Thirteen of the 16 executives of the non-Jewish groups surveyed would have earned more had they worked for a Jewish organization, according to Wyner’s formula.

The results suggest that the executives at the non-Jewish charities “are relatively underpaid (or rather, that Jewish CEOs are relatively overpaid) once we control for size,” Wyner wrote.

The Jewish organizations surveyed are the same federations and national organizations that have been included in the Forward’s annual report on executive compensation since it was first published in 2009, plus some new additions. The Forward has not previously included non-Jewish groups in its annual survey.


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