Where Do Nonprofits Get Money to Pay Employees?

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in providing essential services and support to communities around the world. From healthcare and education to environmental conservation and social justice, nonprofits tackle a wide range of issues and causes. But have you ever wondered Where nonprofits get the money to pay their employees salaries and benefits?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various sources of funding that nonprofits rely on to compensate their staff.

So, if you’re curious about how nonprofits support their people, read on!

Understanding Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations, also known as the nonprofit sector, are dedicated to achieving a specific mission or goal that benefits the public in some way.

Unlike for-profit businesses, nonprofits are not designed to generate profits for owners or shareholders.

Instead, any money that is earned or donated is reinvested into the organization to further its mission.

This means that nonprofits rely on a variety of funding sources to pay their employees and cover other expenses.

Where do Nonprofits get money to pay employees?

Some of the most common sources of funding for nonprofits include:

Grants: Nonprofits can apply for grants from government agencies, foundations, and other organizations that support their mission.

They use Grants money to fund specific projects or programs and typically require a detailed application process.

Donations: Many nonprofits rely on donations from individuals, corporations, and other organizations to fund their operations.

Donations can come in the form of cash, checks, or other assets and are often tax-deductible for the donor.

Earned Income: Some nonprofits generate income by selling goods or services related to their mission.

For example, a nonprofit that works to provide job training might offer classes or workshops for a fee.

Membership Fees: Nonprofits that have a membership model can also generate income through membership fees. One example is the NRA, which gets its money from memberships, among other things.

Members may receive benefits such as access to exclusive events or discounts on products and services.

Nonprofit employees are compensated fairly. However, salaries and benefits must be reasonable and not excessive.

Employee Compensation in Nonprofits

When it comes to employee compensation in nonprofits, it’s important to understand that nonprofits get the money to pay their employees from a variety of sources.

One of the primary sources of funding for nonprofits is donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations, as I previously mentioned.

Nonprofits may also generate revenue through their programs and services.

For example, a nonprofit that provides job training services may charge a fee for its services, which can help fund employee salaries and benefits.

Nonprofits may also generate revenue through fundraising events, such as galas or auctions. The money then can serve to support employee salaries.

Nonprofits also have to ensure that their compensation practices are in compliance with IRS regulations, which require that compensation be reasonable and not excessive.

These organizations may offer a variety of compensation options to their employees, including salaries, wages, bonuses, and variable compensation.

Nonprofits may also offer executive compensation packages, which can include additional benefits such as stock options or performance-based incentives.

Other Sources of Nonprofit Revenue

Nonprofits rely on a mix of sources to get money to fund their operations and pay employees. Here are some of the most common ways nonprofits generate revenue to pay their employees:


Fundraising is a popular method for nonprofits to generate revenue. This can include events like charity walks or auctions, as well as direct mail campaigns and online fundraising platforms.

Nonprofits may also partner with businesses or individuals to sponsor events or donate money.


Donations are another common way nonprofits get money to pay their employees. This can include one-time donations, recurring donations, and major gifts from individuals or organizations. Take, for example, Wikipedia, which asks for money once in a while.

Nonprofits may also receive donations in the form of stocks, real estate, or other assets.


Grants are another source of revenue for nonprofits. These can come from foundations, corporations, or government agencies.

Grants may be awarded for specific projects or programs and may require the nonprofit to meet certain criteria or goals.

Business Ventures

Some nonprofits generate revenue through business ventures. This can include selling products or services, or operating a social enterprise.

Nonprofits may also earn revenue through royalties or licensing fees.

Membership Dues

Nonprofits that have a membership program generate revenue through membership dues.

This is a recurring source of revenue for the nonprofit and provides members with benefits like discounts or access to exclusive events.

Non for profit organizations use this money to pay their employees.

Program Fees

Nonprofits get money through program fees. This can include fees for educational programs, workshops, or other services.

Nonprofits may also charge fees for membership in certain programs or initiatives.

Overall, nonprofits rely on a mix of sources for their income.

By diversifying their revenue streams, nonprofits ensure that they have the resources they need to pay their employees and carry out their mission.

The Role of the Board in Nonprofit Compensation

board of directors of a nonprofit organization. Where do they get the money to pay their employees

The board plays a critical role in determining the compensation of the executive director or CEO, who is responsible for leading the organization and managing its day-to-day operations.

One of the roles, for example, includes determining where the nonprofit gets its money to pay its employee.

Additionally, the board of directors is responsible for hiring and establishing compensation (salary and benefits) for the executive director/CEO that is “reasonable and not excessive,” but is also enough to attract and retain the best possible talent to lead the organization.

This compensation package is reviewed and approved by the board on an annual basis to ensure that it remains competitive and reflects the executive director/CEO’s performance and contributions to the organization.

It is important for the board to exercise due diligence in determining the compensation of the executive director/CEO.

This includes researching and analyzing compensation data for comparable positions in similar organizations, as well as considering the organization’s financial resources and the executive director/CEO’s experience and qualifications.

In addition to determining the compensation of the executive director/CEO, the board also plays a role in setting compensation policies for other employees.

This includes establishing salary ranges, benefits packages, and performance evaluation criteria.

The board should ensure that these policies are fair, equitable, and aligned with the organization’s mission and values.

Nonprofit Compensation: Case Studies

Nonprofits get the money to pay their employees from a variety of sources. Here are a few examples of how nonprofits in different fields fund their compensation:


Many nonprofit educational institutions rely on tuition and donations to pay their employees. For example, the average salary for a professor at a private nonprofit college or university in the United States is $81,500 per year.

This salary is often supplemented by benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.


Nonprofits that work in the community often receive funding from government grants, private donations, and corporate sponsorships.

For example, a community-based nonprofit that provides after-school programs for children may receive funding from the local government, individual donors, and businesses in the area.

The average salary for a community outreach coordinator at a nonprofit organization in the United States is $46,000 per year.


Nonprofits that work with animals may receive funding from individual donors, corporate sponsorships, and grants from foundations.

For example, an animal rescue nonprofit may receive funding from local businesses, individual donors, and grants from foundations that support animal welfare.

The average salary for an animal care specialist at a nonprofit organization in the United States is $30,000 per year.


Nonprofit religious organizations rely on donations from their members to fund their compensation.

A nonprofit church may rely on tithes and offerings from its members to pay its staff.

The average salary for a pastor at a nonprofit religious organization in the United States is $49,000 per year.

Nonprofit Positions

Nonprofit organizations offer a wide range of positions, from entry-level to executive.

The compensation for these positions varies depending on the organization, the field, and the location.

For instance, the average salary for a nonprofit program coordinator in the United States is $44,000 per year, while the average salary for a nonprofit executive director is $76k per year.

Last thoughts

In summary, nonprofits receive their funding from a variety of sources, including donations, grants, and government funding.

The compensation for nonprofit employees varies depending on the field, the position, and the location.

You might like to know where game shows get their money.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the founder of a nonprofit get paid?

Founders of nonprofits can receive compensation for their work. This compensation can come in the form of a salary, benefits, or reimbursement for expenses. However, the founder’s compensation must be reasonable and based on fair market value. The nonprofit’s board of directors must approve the compensation package, and the founder cannot be involved in the decision-making process.

What percentage of a nonprofit budget is allocated to salaries?

The percentage of a nonprofit’s budget allocated to salaries varies depending on the organization’s mission and size. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the average nonprofit spends about 30% of its budget on salaries and benefits. However, some nonprofits may allocate more or less depending on their needs.

What are the tax benefits for non-profit employees?

Nonprofit employees may be eligible for tax benefits, including tax-exempt status and deductions for charitable contributions. Nonprofit organizations are tax-exempt, meaning they do not pay federal income tax. This tax-exempt status also extends to employees of nonprofits. Additionally, employees may be able to deduct charitable contributions made to the organization from their taxes.

How do non-profit employees receive their pay?

Nonprofit employees typically receive their pay through direct deposit or a physical paycheck. The pay period can vary depending on the nonprofit’s payroll schedule, which can be weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly.

What are the primary sources of funding for non-profit organizations?

Nonprofit organizations receive funding from a variety of sources, including donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. They may also receive grants from government agencies or other nonprofit organizations. Some nonprofits generate revenue through the sale of goods or services.

How much is considered excessive for executive compensation in non-profits?

The IRS considers executive compensation excessive if it is more than what is considered reasonable for the services rendered. The IRS looks at factors such as the size of the organization, the executive’s responsibilities, and the compensation of comparable executives in similar organizations. Nonprofits must report executive compensation on their tax returns and can face penalties if the compensation is deemed excessive.