Benefits and compensation trending upwards at associations and not-for-profits but not keeping pace with inflation, CSAE report finds 

Benefits and compensation trending upwards at associations and not-for-profits but not keeping pace with inflation, CSAE report finds 

40th annual edition of benefits and compensation report provides key tool for organizations looking to attract and retain top talent during tough economic times 

FEBRUARY 13, 2023 – TORONTO – Associations and not-for-profits looking to attract and retain top talent can find out how they measure up in the 40th annual edition of CSAE (Canadian Society of Association Executives)’s Benefits and Compensation Report, released today. The report, produced in partnership with The Portage Group, offers insights into the state of benefits and compensation in associations and not-for-profit organizations in Canada.  

The biggest key findings: average cash compensation for association and not-for-profit CEOs and executives has increased year-over-year while the benchmark average for less senior management and non-management staff declined or, at best, held steady – and over the longer term, compensation is not keeping pace with inflation. This is crucial information for associations and not-for-profits looking at their own compensation and benefits offerings as they work to attract and retain staff. 

“Competition for top talent among associations and not-for-profits is fierce and the stakes are high as the sector faces pressure to do more with less during post-COVID recovery,” said Tracy Folkes Hanson, President and CEO of CSAE. “Understanding how their benefits and compensation measure up is critical for associations and not-for-profits across Canada, and this report is an important tool for providing that information.” 

For the second consecutive year, the benchmark for total compensation (base plus additional cash compensation) at the CEO level grew in 2022, increasing by an annual rate of 8.4% since last year’s report. Senior management saw a much more modest annual increase of 1.2% while the remaining staff levels saw average compensation decline by between 2% and 2.9% (annual rate). 

While the overall compensation trend is important, it only shows the changes at the macro level. These include the impacts of people entering and exiting the sector, promotions and lateral moves for more or less money. Changes at the individual level show that a significant majority of management staff (75% to 86% depending on level) experienced an increase in compensation in the past 12 months. The average change for management levels ranged from 3.8% to 4.9% depending on level. For non-management levels, only half (49% to 53%) saw an increase in the past 12 months, with the average sitting at 2.7% to 2.8%. While the average increases are positive, they fall short of inflation which was 6.3% for 2022 (based on Statistics Canada data[i]). 

Association and not-for-profit CEOs earned an average of $167,017 in cash compensation in 2022. This includes an average of $158,457 in base salary and $8,560 in additional cash compensation such as bonuses and incentives.  

“While the overall trends are compelling, what association leaders can really take away from this report is the opportunity to benchmark the findings against organizations that are similar to them in size, geography and revenue,” said Geoffrey Thacker, Executive Partner, Research, The Portage Group. “We recommend that they dig into the numbers to see where they stand against others, then consider how they can offer the tangible and not-so-tangible benefits that will attract great candidates.” 

The Benefits & Compensation Report also revealed: 

  • Management staff are expecting raises. Non-management are not so sure. 
    • The vast majority (76% to 95% depending on level) of management staff surveyed anticipate an increase in compensation in the next 12 months. 
    • Closer to half (50% to 55%) of non-management staff positions anticipate a bump in compensation.  
    • For those expecting an increase, management and executive positions anticipate receiving from 3.5% to 3.9% more while those in non-management positions expect an increase of between 2.3% and 3%. 
  • Geography matters when it comes to compensation.  
    • At all levels except for functional management, compensation generally increases with the size of the community where the job is located. Regionally, Toronto and Ottawa continue to be among the top paying regions for most positions. 
    • Toronto is also the top paying region for support staff, followed closely by Alberta. 
  • There is a strong correlation between compensation and organization revenues.  
  • Average compensation for CEOs at associations whose revenues were $5 million or more was more than 2.2 times higher than compensation at associations with revenues of $500,000 or less. Although not as pronounced, this trend also holds true for other management levels. 
    View the executive summary of the report at: 2023CSAE Benefits & Compensation Report

    The report is based on a survey of associations and not-for-profits conducted by The Portage Group via email in November and December 2022. Responses came from 1,180 employees representing 788 different job positions at 207 participating organizations. The survey was conducted using a list of CSAE members and prospects and is not a random sample.  

    About CSAE 
    Incorporated in 1962, the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) is Canada’s only member-based not-for-profit organization committed to delivering the knowledge, resources and environment to advance association excellence. Also known as the “association of associations,” CSAE offers robust networking and learning opportunities, both online and in person, including an educational program leading to the Certified Association Executive (CAE®) designation. It also produces publications, conducts research and pursues other knowledge transfer opportunities to keep members informed about the latest trends, innovations and best practices in the sector and beyond.  Learn more at  

    About The Portage Group The Portage Group provides associations, not-for-profit and regulatory organizations with pragmatic and future-focused consulting solutions in areas that include: Research, Strategy, Search and Organization Design. Learn more at
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