With members of Congress pushing to cut federal funding for her organization, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill Tuesday about how much money she makes, how federal funds are used by the nonprofit and how her organization spends money.
The hearing in front of a key House committee came amid an outcry by conservative politicians and members of the public about the organization’s practices regarding post-abortion fetal tissue and whether it should continue to receive millions of dollars in federal funding each year.
During the session and before (in a memo), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, put Richards’ compensation at around $590,000, though she specified to the committee that her annual compensation is a bit lower, at $520,000. Regardless, Chaffetz highlighted Richards’ compensation and other Planned Parenthood financial figures – such as the organization’s spending on travel and parties – and concluded, “This is an organization that doesn’t need a federal subsidy.”
To be sure, at $520,000, Richards’ compensation is significantly higher than what the median for nonprofit executives was in 2012: $120,396, according to a report released last year by Charity Navigator that looked at compensation practices of nearly 4,000 organizations.
But that’s not the full picture.
Planned Parenthood is not a typical nonprofit. It’s huge, with expenses near $150 million, according to its 2013 tax form to the IRS. Compensation for nonprofit executives increases as the size of the institution and the management required to run it also do.
When looking at the median compensation amounts of nonprofits broken down by group expenses, Richards makes about $100,000 more than the typical CEO for a nonprofit similar to the size of Planned Parenthood.
Top executives in the health field also tend to make more money than those specializing in other areas, such as nonprofits devoted to working with animals or in the human services realm.
In statistics, medians are usually used when extreme outliers are present. Some CEOs of large nonprofits make much, much more than the median. The highest compensation for the CEO of a nonprofit with expenses over $13.5 million, for example, was $3.7 million, according to the Charity Navigator report. Twelve large nonprofits in the study awarded their top executive $1 million or more, including the Alzheimer’s Association, The Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Of course, CEOs outside the nonprofit world often make much, much more.