Report finds heads of 17 Canadian charities paid more than $200,000 per year

Ducks Unlimited has some high-paid executives
Ducks Unlimited has some high-paid executivesWS file photo

Some heads of Canadian charities in environment, conservation and animal protection are getting paid more than premiers, a Canadian Press study has found.

CP identified 17 charities whose top executive was paid more than $200,000 per year according to T3010 filings with the federal government made in 2022 and 2023. They represent just over 1% of all charities in those two categories.

Ontario premier Doug Ford made $208,974 and Quebec’s Francois Legault made $208,200, until June when Quebec’s legislature voted itself a 30% pay raise, giving Legault $270,120.

Most of the 864 registered charities in the two sectors rely on volunteers or low-paid workers. Almost 59% are completely run by volunteers and 14% have no one earning more than $40,000. Another 15% have no employees making more than $80,000.

Ducks Unlimited Canada, with 565 employees based in Manitoba, had the most generous compensation. Its 2023 declaration shows that two people earned more than $350,000 each, three made between $250,000 and $300,000 and four made between $200,000 and $250,000.

Governments gave $27 million to Ducks Unlimited in its most recent fiscal year and a quarter of its $140 million in revenue came from donations.

In an email to CP, spokesperson Janine Massey pointed out the organization is Canada's largest nature conservancy.

"It is difficult to compare environmental non-profits due to wide variation in mission, scale and complexity of operations,” she said.

“We regularly undertake competitive compensation reviews and adjust our compensation accordingly to ensure that we can attract and retain highly skilled personnel.”

Sylvie St-Onge, professor of management at Montreal business school HEC and an expert in compensation management, said the green movement is an industry all its own.

“They’re going to compare themselves to others in the industry who are like a core group of well-offs,” she said.

At the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, one manager was paid more than $250,000 for the year ending August 31 2022, and three others made more than $200,000. Spokesperson Charles Bonhomme said the foundation has offices “in the most expensive cities in Canada: Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.” He said the foundation, which employs just under one hundred people, has changed personnel since then after an HR firm made a salary review.

The World Wildlife Fund Canada employs about 110 people and nearly 80% of its revenues come from donations. One executive was paid more than $250,000 for the year ending June 30 2023, and two others made more than $200,000.

The organization said its compensation structure is similar to its peers and, “to have the greatest possible protection of the environment, we must recruit the best individuals.”

At Nature United, which had 36 Canadian employees in 2022, one manager made more than $250,000 and another made more than $200,000. Director of Communications Jacqueline Nunes says, “As a non-profit organization, we take our finances very seriously and would not be compensating leaders more than necessary to secure strong leadership.”

The Atlantic Salmon Federation, based in Saint-Andrews, NB, had one employee earning more than $200,000 in 2022. The federation, with annual revenues of $6 million, got 22% of that from government sources and 16% from donations. Federation spokesman Neville Crabbe said an external review found their “salary structure to be competitive with other mid- and large-sized Canadian NGOs focused on conservation and the environment.”

St-Onge doubts the high pay jives with their cause. 

“When we talk about sustainable development, it is also about social responsibility. It’s like sending a contradictory message with the values ​​that there should be,” she said. “Somewhere, there is a board of directors that either did not do its job or that found a rationale for it.

St-Onge believes the organizations should look more for people motivated by the cause than ambition.

“In these organizations, it is not so much the best in terms of expertise that you need, but the best in terms of mobilization, faith, belief in adherence to the mission — someone who doesn’t come so much to get the money.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada paid one employee more than $300,000 in 2022 and another three between $200,000 and $250,000. Meanwhile, the Alberta Conservation Association had one employee paid more than $300,000, but only two in the $200,000-to-$250,000 bracket.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Western Standard