List of Highest-paid Nonprofit Employees Dominated By Doctors

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Clockwise from top left: Baptist Health CEO Russell D. Harrington Jr., Crystal Bridges Museum Executive Director Don Bacigalupi, gerontologist David Lipschitz and cardiovascular surgeon Louis Elkins.

Compensation for nonprofit employees is gently regulated by the IRS, which requires only that nonprofits pay executives “fair and reasonable compensation,” according to a 2011 white paper by GuideStar, a nonprofit organization that compiles nonprofit financial reports and makes them available online.

If the IRS determines that a nonprofit employee has overpaid, he or she can be required to repay the overpayment plus a penalty. Members of the board of directors who approved or failed to prevent the excess pay can also be required to pay a penalty equal to 10 percent of the overpayment.

“We talk to both sides of the house,” GuideStar spokeswoman Lindsay J.K. Nichols said last week. “We talk to donors who think nonprofit executives are paid outrageously, and we talk to nonprofit executives who think they aren’t paid nearly enough.”

GuideStar doesn’t take sides, she said.

“We never comment on specific organizations. We can only say this is what the IRS requires: You have to compare your salary to someone else based on revenue and mission.”

In which case, even Russ Harrington’s million-dollar salary may look modest. Baptist Health’s many affiliates have total revenue of about $2 billion a year and close to 8,000 employees. By comparison, Stephen C. Reynolds, the CEO of 12,000-employee Baptist Memorial Health Care of Memphis, which operates NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital at Jonesboro, was paid nearly $3.3 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2011.



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