“The worst measurement you can apply to determine the compensation for your ministry leadership is ‘what can our ministry afford’.” – Cindy McDaniel


Don’t Underestimate the Value of Your Leadership

A board member told me, in all earnestness, that ministry workers should just work for the glory of God and not be paid. No kidding! We can be thankful that this is a rare belief. But even some of you underestimate the value of your leadership. That’s a mistake that’s only going to contribute to leader burnout and, even worse, create a serious problem for the longevity of the ministry you’ve worked so hard to establish.

In talking with many ministry leaders, both directors and board members, we find that this topic is a source of significant anxiety with lots of questions. So we know you need support and aids to determine appropriate salary scales.

Tools to Help Determine Executive Director Salary

There are no simple formulas for this because of the numerous variables such as hours worked per week, benefits included, the nature of your expertise, the expectations on your availability and talents, whether you’re in an expensive metro area or a remote setting, etc.. So you need tools that address all of these things. Good news! They are out there!

Click below to see a sample salary range for Executive Directors in the Atlanta area from the website Payscale:

Executive Director, Non-Profit Organization Salary – PayScale


Here are some additional sites that may prove helpful in your research:

       Salary surveys – Idealist Careers


Executive Compensation | National Council of Nonprofits


How to Pay Your Nonprofit Staff – Foundation Group

https://www.501c3.org/how-to-pay-your-nonprofits-staff/Oct 2, 2015

Guidestar Non-profit Compensation Report



The Worst Way to Determine Your Salary

The worst measurement you can apply to determine the compensation for your ministry leadership is ‘what can our ministry afford’. Your leadership value should be established and then become part of the financial goals for your ministry. Fortunately most supporters are not like that board member I had, and expect your time and talent to be part of the cost of doing ministry. Not valuing it yourself may actually create a sense of concern in your donor’s mind.

Ministry Ventures is here to help you work through those financial plans and leadership development. We think you’re pretty awesome!

Cindy McDaniel

Ministry Ventures’ Coach

P.S. That board member and I are still friends and she did change her opinion about paying ministry leaders.


One way to make sure the executive director salary is being calculated with both objectivity and thoughtfulness is to create a Compensation Role on your board of directors. It will be this board members responsibility to bring a research based recommendation to the board on a regular basis for approval.

Need a description of what this role would look like? Click below to download our board of directors Compensation Role description. It’s a great template to help get the conversation started and make sure leaders are being compensated fairly.