THE LAVISH salary and perks given William Aramony when he was president of the United Way of America has turned the spotlight on the compensation of other chief executives of major charities. None came even close, according to a survey by Money magazine, although one reached hailing distance.
And none was paid an unconscionable salary when compared with the chief executives of private businesses of similar size. On average, the charity executives earned half what their private-sector counterparts did. But should executives whose salaries derive from donations aspire to the same compensation as the heads of profit-making companies? There's no clear answer.
Money suggests that donors who care about the salary scales of their favorite charities ask for the information. One way of looking at the reasonableness of the salary, Money says, is to calculate it as a percentage of the charity's income. Or compare it with the average salary for charities of the same size. They range from $83,000 for charities collecting less than $1 million a year to $185,000 for those raising $20 million or more.
With Mr. Aramony out of the competition, the top salary found by Money went to Sanford Shapero, of the City of Hope, a California hospital and research center, who earned $353,000 in 1990. That's 0.23 percent of the charity's $157 million income. Next came James Bausch, chief of the Save the Children Foundation, whose $301,000 in 1991 was 0.31 percent of income. Salaries well over $200,000 were paid in 1990 to the chiefs of the American Heart Association (0.1 percent of income), the National Wildlife Federation (0.33 percent), the Population Council (0.73 percent), the United Jewish Appeal (0.06 percent), the Shriners Hospitals (0.06 percent) and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (0.38 percent).
At the bottom of the list, if that's the right way to describe it, was Millard Fuller, who was paid $14,000 as president of Habitat for Humanity, whose best-known volunteer is Jimmy Carter.