Contact Us

New Year! New Info to Help You Grow Your Team!

By Mary Hernandez, Petrus Blog Contributor

The newest release of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) annual Compensation and Benefits Study is timed perfectly for organizations creating a strategic plan to start or grow their development team in the new year. We've limited the scope of the 178-page report to look at key findings from the United States in religious, higher education, and human services sectors.

The data takes some of the mystery out navigating compensation for development professionals, who are integral to making your development program successful. By looking holistically at professional compensation relative to organization budget, team size, geographic region, and several other data points, you will better understand how growing your team may impact your budget. 

Organizations should be mindful that statistics and numbers only tell a part of the story. These data points do not measure the intangible qualities that ultimately make a development professional great at what they do, nor do they predict that a candidate will have a good organizational fit. They will, however, provide some clarity in the otherwise murky world of negotiating compensation. 



Larger Institutional Budget Size Means Higher Compensation1:

There is a very strong relationship between the organization's annual budget and the average compensation rate of the fundraising professional. Where does your organization fall in?


Compensation Varies by Subsector2:

Here’s how the salaries of those in the Religious, Higher Education, and Human Services fields compare:


Team Makeup Per Million Dollars Raised Vary by Sector3:

2021 is the first year AFP collected data on team size related to dollars raised. Most Organizations have two to three fundraising professionals for each $1 million raised. However, the team sizes vary by sector. We have highlighted three relevant sectors from among the many included in the report: Religious, Higher Education, and Human Services. Those in the religious sector are raising each million with the leanest staff.

Fundraising Role: Higher Earners are also Higher on the Organizational Chart4:

Respondents were primarily in one of three roles: Agency CEO or Executive Director, Chief Development Officer, and Fundraising Officer.

Education Level: Advanced Degree Earners Reported Earning More5:

Certified Fund-Raising Executives (CFRE) Earn More6:

The surveyed group reported that 555 held a CFRE and 1,350 did not hold a CFRE, with the remainder not responding to the certification question. While certification is valuable, most professionals don't necessarily have a CFRE. Of professionals with the same number of years of experience, the CFRE certified fundraiser earns a consistently higher salary (between 10% - 25% more) than professionals who do not hold a CFRE.

Regional Differences: East and West Coast Professionals Earn More7: New England reported the highest mean at $101,069 and the Mountain States reported the lowest mean at $81,917 with the remainder of the U.S. hovering in the mid to high 80s, with the exception of the west coast, whose average is $100,358.


Gender: Men Reported Earning More8:

Men reported a higher average compensation ($103,175) than was reported by women ($85,967) before considering hours worked, education, experience, or institution budget.


More Experienced Fundraisers Earn More9:

Not surprisingly, there is a moderate to a large correlation between years of experience and higher reported compensation levels. Study participants averaged 5.4 years at their current employer in the U.S. The median was three years. The longest average time fundraisers in the U.S. worked for any employer was 6.7 years. The median is three years. Additionally, the average U.S. participant has worked for 3.4 different employers as a fundraiser.


Data taken from 2021 AFP Compensation and Benefits Study

© 2021 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 4300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22203 USA


AFP surveyed 18,598 professional fundraising members in the U.S and received responses from 3,261 who reported on their salary and benefits in March and December 2020 for that same calendar year. Women accounted for 81% of respondents, men 18%, with 1% reporting as other. Respondents were all considered full-time professionals, working  30+ hours/week.


1 Figure 22, Page 44

2 Table 45, Page 65

3 Figure 12, Page 25

4  Table 38, Page 54 & Table 44, Page 64

5 Table 19, Page 32

6 Table 21 & Table 22, Page 33

7 Figure 20, Page 40

8 Table 17, Page 31

9 Table 20, Page 33


Lecture Series:
Managing Up & the Case for a Development Team
January 12, 2022
12:00 CST
A talk by Josh Whelan
Vice President & Sr. Consultant, Petrus Development
Building Your Team Virtual Summit
January 26, 2022
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM CST


Sign up below toĀ receive tools, ideas, and inspiration to take your development efforts to the next level.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.