2016 Nonprofit Wage & Benefit Report of Northern New England Available

Common Good Vermont is pleased to announce the release of the 2016 Nonprofit Wage & Benefit Report of Northern New England. The 2016 Report is produced in partnership with the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits and the Maine Association of Nonprofits with the support of generous community underwriters.

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The 2016 Report provides Vermont’s nonprofit board and staff leaders with reliable and objective salary and benefit data. The Vermont Edition analyzes data collected between May – June 2016 from Vermont nonprofit organizations of varying sizes, representing every sub-sector and twelve of the state’s fourteen counties. The data collected in this survey reflect the actual practices of the participating organizations. Please review Survey Methodology, How to Use this Report and the Appendices (especially Job Descriptions) before attempting to interpret the results.


Executive Summary & Key Findings

We are pleased to present this report on Nonprofit Wages and Benefits in Vermont. This report is intended to be informational and to be a resource for conversation on nonprofit human resource management, recruitment, retention and satisfaction.

The employment environment has changed since our last report in 2014. Vermont’s unemployment rate has declined from 4% to 3.3%+/- in 2016. Our state’s unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the nation. Vermont’s labor pool is continuing to shrink due to an aging population and out-migration.

Survey Population: 2016 is the second year that Vermont nonprofits were invited to participate in the annual Nonprofit Wage and Benefit Survey of Northern New England. There are 5,802 Nonprofits operating in Vermont, including 4,284 501(c)3’s (3,991 public charities and 293 private foundations) . The 122 organizations represented in this Report employ 2,803 full-time and 2,807 part-time workers, paying aggregate wages of $114 million. In the 2014 survey, 262 Vermont organizations responded.

Wages: The 2016 Wage & Benefit Report, Vermont Edition, reports an average benchmarked wage of $23.83 per hour. This is consistent with both Maine and New Hampshire results and represents an 10% increase over 2014 ($21.62). The average Vermont 2016 Executive Director hourly wage is $39.98 per hour (or $83,158) compared with $73,112 in 2014–a 14% difference. The Consumer Price Index for this period increased 1.6% (2014) and 0.1% (2015).

This year’s survey tells the story of how mission-driven work is valued in Vermont and how benefits are distributed across organizations of varied sizes

  • The annual gross wages reported by 118 of the 122 participating Vermont organizations report total $113 million. This represents an average payroll of $1,027,349. Data is drawn from 876 Full-time and 125 part-time employees.
  • In its most recent published data on the topic (2012!), the U.S. Department of Labor/Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Vermont’s nonprofit sector included 44,131 employees in 2012, with an average annual wage of $44,882 or $22.00/hour. The 2016 Wage & Benefit Survey of Northern New England reports an average benchmarked wage of $23.83 for Vermont nonprofit employees. This DOL data needs to be updated in order to remain relevant. The Vermont Department of Labor does not keep this data.
  • Executive Directors in responding organizations have been in their current position 7.8 years on average, and 59% hold at least a Master’s Degree.  Nearly 70% of Executive Directors have not held the position of Executive Director prior to their current employment.
  • The average Executive Director wage is estimated to be $83,154 per year or $39.98 per hour.  The highest median Executive Director wages are reported in Chittenden ($40.80) and Washington ($41.85) counties.
  • Overall, 72% of Vermont’s Executive Directors are female, more likely to be found in the smaller budget categories: 20% of Ed’s are females in organizations with revenues of $5 – 10 million. Fifty percent (50%) lead organizations with over $10 million in revenues.
  • In most organizational budget categories, women ED’s earn less than their male counterparts. The overall gender pay gap between men ($48.54/hour) and women ($35.69/hour) in all categories is significant. The female:male salary ratio is 73.5%.
  • Over 65% of Vermont respondents to this year’s survey expect employment to stay the same or increase (28%) in 2016. New Hampshire and Maine organizations report more optimism that employment levels will increase.

Benefits: Benefits as a percentage of wages increased a half percent to 16%. Group health insurance remains the most frequently offered benefit, with 76% of organizations offering a group health plan. Small nonprofits are hard pressed to offer group health insurance, but 45% with less than $250,000 and 65% with revenue less than $500,000 do offer some kind of premium coverage to their staff members. In all organizations,  increasing health premium costs continue to be shifted to employees, with 31% of employers paying full premium costs.


  • On average, Vermont employers pay 16.1% of wages toward fringe benefits. In Maine this average is 16.4%; in New Hampshire, 15.3%.
  • In 2015 the cost of health benefits increased (84%) or stayed the same (12.2%) for 97% of Vermont organizations. In response to increases, 46% of organizations made no change, 38% increased the employer contribution, 29% increased employee contribution, and only 5% decreased coverage.
  • It is important to note that only 3% switched health insurance vendors, which speaks to the dearth of health insurance providers in Vermont. (In Maine 20% switched and in New Hampshire 19% switched).
  • Thirty-one percent (31%) of Vermont employers pay 100% of group health insurance costs, while 37% pay 51-100% of the cost. Just over half offer high deductible plans with a health savings account. This is a significant increase over 2014 numbers (one third).  Forty-five percent (45%) of Vermont organizations offer insurance benefits to part-time workers.
  • Vermont nonprofit employers are more likely to offer paid Family Medical Leave (23%), Maternity Leave (25%), and Paternity Leave (16%) than those in Maine and New Hampshire.
  • Seven percent (7%) of organizations offer defined benefit retirement plans, while more than half (58%) offer a defined contribution plan–to which nearly three quarters provide matching contributions (80%).
  • Nearly half of respondents offer defined holiday/ vacation/ sick leave (44%) rather than combining different types of days off.

Special Thanks to Our Lead Underwriters

A.D. Henderson Foundation | Ben & Jerry’s Foundation
Davis & Hodgdon Associates | United Ways of Vermont | Vermont Business for Social Responsibility| The Vermont Community Foundation

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