At, we utilize AI technology to assist in the creation of our content. However, we want to assure our readers that every article undergoes a thorough review and fact-checking process by our human editors before publication. Our goal is to provide accurate, helpful, and valuable information to our audience. Despite our best efforts, if you come across any inaccuracies or errors in our content, please reach out to us at [[email protected]], and we will promptly address the issue.

Goodwill Vs Salvation Army: Comparing Ceo Pay At Two Major Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in society by providing services that benefit the public good. Two of the largest and most well-known nonprofits in the United States are Goodwill Industries International and The Salvation Army.

Both operate nationwide thrift stores and use their profits to fund job training, education, and other social services. Goodwill and The Salvation Army are also notable for not paying income tax due to their nonprofit status.

With any large organization, reasonable compensation for executives and leadership is to be expected. However, outsized pay for leaders of charitable nonprofits calls into question how donations are used.

In recent years, Goodwill in particular has come under scrutiny for high executive compensation compared to other nonprofits.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The CEO of Goodwill Industries International makes substantially more than the international leader of The Salvation Army. Goodwill CEOs can make several hundred thousand dollars and even more per year, while The Salvation Army’s General receives only a modest allowance.

In this approximately 2,500-word article, we will compare the pay of top executives at Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Key details that will be covered include:

Tax and Legal Status of Goodwill vs Salvation Army

When comparing Goodwill and the Salvation Army, it is important to understand their tax and legal statuses.

Both organizations are classified as 501(c)(3) nonprofits, which means that they are exempt from federal income tax and are eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.

This designation is granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to organizations that operate for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes.

501(c)(3) designation

The 501(c)(3) designation is highly sought after by charitable organizations as it provides several benefits. It allows them to receive tax-exempt status, meaning they do not have to pay federal income tax on their earnings.

Additionally, it enables them to solicit tax-deductible donations from individuals and corporations, encouraging philanthropic giving. This designation also helps nonprofits gain credibility and trust from the public, as it signifies that they are operating for the greater good.

Requirements and limitations

To qualify for 501(c)(3) status, organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army must meet certain requirements set by the IRS. They must primarily operate for charitable, religious, educational, or scientific purposes, and their earnings must be used to further these purposes rather than benefiting private individuals.

Additionally, these nonprofits must not engage in excessive lobbying or political activities, as these could jeopardize their tax-exempt status.

While the 501(c)(3) status offers significant advantages, it also comes with limitations. Nonprofits are required to disclose certain financial information to the IRS, including their annual financial statements and details about their executive compensation.

This transparency helps ensure that nonprofits are using their resources responsibly and in accordance with their mission.

Requirements and limitations

Criticisms of high nonprofit salaries

One common criticism regarding nonprofits, including Goodwill and the Salvation Army, is the high salaries paid to their CEOs and executives.

Critics argue that these organizations should be focused on serving the public good rather than compensating their top executives generously. However, it is important to note that nonprofit salaries are subject to scrutiny and regulations.

The IRS requires nonprofits to provide justification for high executive compensation and ensures that it is reasonable and in line with industry standards.

Nonetheless, it is worth exploring the salary figures and making informed judgments. Goodwill and the Salvation Army, being large organizations with significant revenue, require capable leaders who can manage complex operations and drive strategic initiatives.

These leaders often possess extensive experience and skills that warrant competitive salaries. It is crucial to strike a balance between attracting top talent and ensuring that the majority of resources are directed towards the nonprofits’ missions.

Leadership Structure

When it comes to the leadership structure of nonprofit organizations, both Goodwill Industries International and The Salvation Army have their own unique setup.

Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill Industries International operates with a CEO at the helm, overseeing the organization’s overall operations and strategic direction.

The CEO is responsible for implementing the mission and vision of Goodwill, as well as managing the various programs and services offered by the organization. They work closely with the Board of Directors, which provides guidance and oversight.

The Board of Directors at Goodwill Industries International is composed of volunteers from various backgrounds, including business, academia, and the nonprofit sector. They play a crucial role in decision-making, setting policies, and ensuring the organization’s financial stability.

The CEO reports to the Board and works collaboratively with them to achieve the organization’s goals.

The Salvation Army

At The Salvation Army, the leadership structure is slightly different.

The organization is led by a General, who is appointed by the High Council and serves as the international leader. The General is responsible for providing spiritual and administrative guidance to the entire organization and is considered the highest-ranking officer.

Under the General’s leadership, The Salvation Army is divided into territories, each headed by a territorial commander. These commanders oversee the operations of The Salvation Army within their respective territories and report directly to the General.

The organizational structure of The Salvation Army also includes various other leadership positions, such as divisional commanders and corps officers, who manage specific regions and local branches.

Both Goodwill and The Salvation Army have established leadership structures that ensure effective management and accountability within their respective organizations.

The CEO-led structure at Goodwill Industries International allows for a clear chain of command and strategic decision-making, while The Salvation Army’s hierarchical structure under the General ensures a unified approach to achieving the organization’s mission.

The Salvation Army

Compensation for Goodwill CEOs and Executives

When it comes to the compensation of CEOs and executives at Goodwill and Salvation Army, it is important to understand the pay scale and salary ranges offered.

While both organizations are non-profits, they still need to attract and retain top talent to effectively carry out their missions.

Pay scale and salary ranges

The pay scale for CEOs and executives at Goodwill can vary depending on the size and location of the organization.

According to some reports, the CEO of a regional Goodwill can earn an average salary ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 and even around $1 million per year.

However, it’s important to note that these figures can fluctuate based on factors such as the organization’s revenue, location, and other industry-specific considerations.

Examples of compensation at regional Goodwills

Let’s take a look at some specific examples of compensation for CEOs at regional Goodwills.

In 2019, the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey earned a salary of $630,000, according to the organization’s official website.

Similarly, the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas earned a salary of $527,500, as reported by the organization’s website.

Bonuses and benefits

In addition to base salaries, CEOs and executives at Goodwill may also receive performance-based bonuses and benefits. These can include incentives tied to key performance indicators such as revenue growth, fundraising success, and program impact.

The specific details regarding bonuses and benefits can vary between organizations and are often determined by the board of directors.

It’s important to note that the compensation of CEOs and executives at non-profit organizations like Goodwill is a complex topic. These individuals are responsible for leading and managing multi-million dollar operations, and their compensation is often benchmarked against similar roles in the for-profit sector.

Ultimately, the goal is to attract and retain talented individuals who can effectively lead the organization and fulfill its mission of helping individuals in need.

Salvation Army Leader Pay

The Salvation Army is a well-known nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and support to those in need. It has a unique organizational structure, with a General at the helm who oversees the operations and mission of the organization.

The General is appointed by a High Council and serves as the spiritual leader of the Salvation Army.

The General’s allowance

The General of the Salvation Army is not paid a salary in the traditional sense. Instead, they receive an allowance to cover their living expenses, which includes housing, utilities, and other necessities.

This allowance is determined by the organization’s international headquarters and is based on the cost of living in the area where the General is serving. It is important to note that the General’s primary focus is on leading and serving the organization, rather than receiving a high salary.

Salaries of officers and administrators

In addition to the General, the Salvation Army employs a number of officers and administrators who help carry out its mission. These individuals are responsible for managing the organization’s programs, fundraising efforts, and day-to-day operations.

The salaries of officers and administrators vary depending on factors such as the level of responsibility, experience, and location.

According to the Salvation Army’s financial statements, the average salary for officers and administrators in the United States ranges from $40,000 to $80,000 per year. It is important to note that these figures are approximate and can vary depending on the specific position and location.

The Salvation Army is committed to transparency and accountability in its financial practices. Detailed financial information, including salaries and expenses, can be found on the organization’s official website. 

Justifications and Counterarguments on Executive Pay

Arguments for higher nonprofit salaries

While executive pay at nonprofits like Goodwill and Salvation Army may seem high compared to the average worker’s salary, there are arguments that support these higher salaries.

One argument is that nonprofits need to attract and retain top talent in order to effectively carry out their mission. By offering competitive salaries, nonprofits can attract experienced and skilled individuals who can make a significant impact on their organization.

Another argument is that the responsibilities and demands of leading a large nonprofit organization are similar to those of leading a for-profit company. Nonprofit CEOs are responsible for managing complex budgets, overseeing diverse programs, and making strategic decisions that impact the lives of many. Therefore, it can be argued that they should be compensated accordingly.

Furthermore, some research suggests that higher executive salaries can actually lead to better financial performance for nonprofits. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that nonprofits with higher CEO salaries tend to have higher levels of revenue and assets.

This suggests that investing in top leadership can contribute to the overall success and sustainability of the organization.

Criticisms and responses

Despite the justifications for higher nonprofit salaries, there are criticisms that question the fairness and appropriateness of such compensation.

One common criticism is that nonprofit organizations should prioritize their mission and the beneficiaries they serve, rather than allocating a significant portion of their budget to executive salaries.

In response to this criticism, proponents of higher nonprofit salaries argue that attracting and retaining top talent is necessary for achieving the organization’s mission.

By offering competitive salaries, nonprofits can attract individuals with the necessary skills and experience to drive meaningful change. Additionally, some argue that the impact of a highly skilled and effective CEO can far outweigh the cost of their salary.

Another criticism is that high executive salaries can create a perception of impropriety and undermine public trust in nonprofits. It is argued that nonprofits should prioritize transparency and ensure that their financial resources are being used in the best interest of their beneficiaries.

In response, nonprofit organizations have implemented measures to address transparency concerns. Many nonprofits now provide detailed information about executive compensation on their websites or in annual reports, allowing stakeholders to scrutinize the use of funds.

Additionally, some nonprofits have established independent compensation committees to ensure that executive salaries are determined in a fair and objective manner.

It is worth noting that the debate surrounding executive pay at nonprofits is complex and multifaceted. While there are valid justifications for higher salaries, it is essential for nonprofit organizations to strike a balance between attracting top talent and prioritizing their mission and stakeholders.

Accountability and Oversight

IRS reporting requirements

Both Goodwill and the Salvation Army are required to meet certain reporting requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). These requirements ensure that the organizations are operating in accordance with their nonprofit status and are accountable to the public and their donors.

The IRS Form 990 is a key document that provides transparency and insight into the financial activities of these nonprofits.

The Form 990 includes information about the organization’s mission, programs, governance, and finances. It also includes details about executive compensation, which allows the public to assess whether CEO pay is in line with the organization’s mission and resources.

Goodwill and the Salvation Army are both diligent in meeting these reporting requirements, providing the public with the necessary information to evaluate their operations and make informed decisions about supporting their causes.

IRS reporting requirements

Financial transparency

Financial transparency is a crucial aspect of nonprofit accountability. Donors and the public want to know how their contributions are being utilized and whether the organization is using its resources effectively.

Both Goodwill and the Salvation Army prioritize financial transparency and make their financial statements available to the public. These statements provide a comprehensive overview of the organizations’ revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

Goodwill, for instance, publishes its annual report on its website, which includes a breakdown of its financial performance, program impact, and the number of individuals served. Similarly, the Salvation Army discloses its financial statements on its website, allowing stakeholders to assess the organization’s financial health and stewardship of resources.

By providing this level of financial transparency, both organizations demonstrate their commitment to accountability and oversight, reassuring donors and the public that their funds are being used responsibly.


  Goodwill Salvation Army
IRS Form 990 Publicly available on website Publicly available on website
Financial Statements Annual report available on website Financial statements available on website
Executive Compensation Reported in Form 990 Reported in Form 990

Overall, both Goodwill and the Salvation Army adhere to IRS reporting requirements and prioritize financial transparency. They make their financial information readily accessible to the public, allowing stakeholders to assess their accountability and oversight.

This transparency builds trust and confidence in the organizations and helps donors make informed decisions about supporting their causes.


In conclusion, the CEO of Goodwill Industries International earns substantially more than the international leader of The Salvation Army.

Goodwill CEO pay reaches the high six figures, while The Salvation Army General receives a modest allowance and lives in seminary housing.

Arguments around appropriate nonprofit compensation will likely continue. But the core issue remains whether salaries are reasonable and justifiable for an organization’s size, complexity, and mission.

Both nonprofits would serve their donors and the public well by erring on the side of modesty when it comes to executive pay.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts