Stephen Hoffman 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Young college graduates embarking on a career in the not-for profit sector often
encounter resistance from parents and peers.
“There’s no money in it,”
goes the refrain. “Idealism doesn’t pay.”
But for better or worse
according to a survey compiled by the Forward, that isn’t necessarily true. Top
executives of Jewish organizations in the US can make hundreds of thousands of
dollars a year.
Stephen Hoffman, president of the Jewish Federation of
Cleveland, leads the the list of Federation fund-raisers for 2009, – as he did
the year before – taking home $687,043 per annum, followed by Marc Terril,
president of Baltimore’s Jewish Federation, who earned $487,877 and Ira
Schwartz, the chief executive officer of Philadelphia’s Jewish Federation, who
came third with $472,191.
The fund-raising groups chart, however, was not
entirely complete. The salary of Jerry Silverman, the head of Jewish Federations
of North America, who came over from the private sector last year, was not
His predecessor, however, made $575,000 in
Executives of Jewish advocacy groups and public services were also
well compensated for their work. Anti- Defamation League honcho Abe Foxman
banked $563,024 in 2009; US Holocaust Memorial Museum Director Sara Bloomfield,
the top-paid woman on the list, was paid $542,654, and David Harris of the
American Jewish Committee earned $499,061.
The highest salary on the
entire list, however, was in the “religion and education” category, and went to
Richard Joel, the president of Yeshiva University, who earned $853,651 in
While most salaries increased or stayed the same over the past
year, nine of those who took part in the survey had their salaries
One of the issues raised by the data presented by Forward chief
editor Jane Eisner is the relative dearth of women at the top. Only nine of the
74 organization heads were female and on average they earned 67 cents to every
dollar made by the men. Instead of getting better the disparity is getting
worse: Last year there were 11 women on the list.
While the salaries may
be considerably above that of the national average, which stood at $50,233,
according to the US Census Bureau in 2006, they also reflect the size of the
organizations and their budgets. Jewish executives work long hours, make big
sacrifices to reach the top of the pyramid and many of them could receive
commensurate salaries, or even higher ones, working in the private
Large salaries for top not-for profit execs seem to be something
of a double-edged sword: On the one hand they make pursuing a career in social
activism more appealing, on the other it seems to undermine the idea of
social-mindedness, which attracts people to the field in the first place.