Association Salary Budgets Up in 2022

Nelson_Comp and Benefits 2022 August 24, 2022 By: Jenny Nelson

New data from ASAE’s 2022 Compensation and Benefits Study show that organizations are allocating more money for salaries in the face of rising inflation.

It’s been a rocky couple of years for the financial bottom line. The pandemic disrupted both dues and nondues revenue for associations, and rising inflation has made everything more expensive for workers as many organizations, navigating financial uncertainty, were hesitant to increase salaries or add staff.

But new data in ASAE’s 2022 Compensation and Benefits Study indicate that organizations are ready to put more money toward staffing costs. Whether it’s due to hiring additional staff in light of financial recovery or growth opportunities, concern about “the Great Resignation,” or some combination of both, associations are increasing their salary budgets.

Those additional resources will likely be very welcome among staff. Respondents also did not report big salary changes from 2020 for several of the most common association staff roles, including the chief executive officer. Here’s a closer look at those takeaways and others.

More Money for Staff

Among respondents to the 2022 study, 72.55 percent said their organization’s budget allocated to salary increased this year. Just 48.4 percent said the same in 2020, as the pandemic began to create financial challenges and long-term uncertainty for associations. Job performance remained the most common primary determinant for salary increases, though more respondents indicated the organization’s fiscal standing and the budgeted percentage as primary determinants this year than in 2020.

Merit increases remained the most common kind of salary increases organizations planned to provide in 2022, with 59.54 percent reporting that they had awarded or would award them this fiscal year. This number is slightly up from the 58 percent who said they planned merit increases for 2020. There was a larger jump among those who said they’d be providing cost-of-living increases—41.03 percent of respondents in 2022, compared to 26.5 percent in 2020.

Small Changes for Common Positions

Most of the most commonly reported positions among respondents did not see a major increase in median salary since 2020. The median salaries for membership directors, membership managers, meetings/convention directors, and accountants were between 1 and 4 percent higher than 2020. Median salaries for education directors and administrative assistants were between 4 and 5 percent higher, while the median salary for marketing directors saw the biggest boost with a 5.8% jump.

Meanwhile, median salaries for two common roles were actually lower among this year’s respondents. The deputy chief executive/COO median salary was 2.4 percent lower than in 2020, while the finance VP/CFO median salary was 4.5 percent lower this year.

A Look at CEO Salaries

Median CEO base salaries were higher compared to the numbers from 2020, though rates varied across budget sizes and organization types. The median CEO salary across all respondents was $215,000, 1.8 percent higher than the 2020 median. The trade association CEO median salary was $223,915—up 2 percent from the 2020 median—while the professional association CEO median salary was $210,000, approximately the same as the 2020 median.

When looking at organizations by budget size, the biggest jump was among associations with budgets below $1 million. Their reported median CEO base salary was $123,914, up 21.5 percent from the reported median in 2020. The second-highest jump was among associations with budgets above $25 million, where the reported median CEO base salary was $555,676, up 11.1 percent from the 2020 median.

Get the Data, With a Grain of Salt

A challenge of looking at benchmarks year after year is that the respondent pool changes. This year’s study received fewer responses than in 2020, and the respondent demographics changed. The percentage of respondents from professional, trade, or other kinds of associations was consistent, but the survey received fewer responses from associations with budgets of $10 million or higher. Associations with budgets between $1 million and $4,999,999 remain the largest response segment.

Leaders should dig into the data to get a better sense of the numbers for different positions for different category filters. The 2022 Association Compensation and Benefits Study is now available online through Compensation and Benefits access or AssociaMetrics Premium access, which also includes ASAE’s 2021 Operating Ratio Report data.

Jenny Nelson

Jenny Nelson is director, content and knowledge resources, at ASAE.