I’m in Chicago for a consumer law conference. While walking to the conference site a young woman approached me on the sidewalk, asking me to donate to the Red Cross. I told her that I’m not interested, because too much of the money I would donate would go to over-paid executives. She quickly responded that the head of the Red Cross only makes a bit more than $600,000. I told her that this was outrageous.
She asked, “So you would never give to a charity where the person in charge makes $600,000?”
I said, “Never.”
The Red Cross is not alone in paying huge salaries to its executives. Here is a list of the salaries of some of the executive salaries of some of the biggest charities in the United States. Many of these charity leaders earn less than $200,000.
I know a lot of teachers who work every bit as hard as any executive, yet they are paid a pittance compared to $600,000. I know many people who believe in a cause enough to work untold hours for the cause for no pay at all. It seems to me that charities ought to work harder to find leaders who believe in the cause enough that they will do it for outrageous salaries. For comparison, the salary of members of Congress is $174,000 per year. A justice on the United States Supreme Court earns $223,000 per year. Ralph Nader lives off of $25,000 per year. The average chief executive (charity and non-charity) in the United States earns less than $300,000/year.