- Compassion International Blog - http://blog.compassion.com -

Wess Speaks (Part III)

average CEO salary We recently gave you the opportunity ask our CEO, Wess, any questions you like. We’re publishing his answers one day at a time.

This is a fair question because this is a non-profit organization and this type of information is on public record. Anyone who wants to find out what the leaders of Compassion make can review our 990 form [3].

There are some decisions that I don’t make around here, and all the decisions about what I’m paid fall to Compassion’s Board of Directors. Our Board believes that Compassion must exercise prudent business judgment in balancing the stewardship of the ministry’s financial resources, the needs of the employees, and the payment of salaries sufficient to attract and retain the well-qualified employees who are required to effectively carry out our ministry. It is important to Compassion’s Board of Directors that we represent both excellence and stewardship.

Part of our salary structure also dictates that all Compassion staff are paid relative to that of the top position in the organization, which happens to be mine. So, if I were to be paid less, it means that every person below me in the organization would also be paid less. I have staff reporting to me who are responsible for managing a budget of nearly $400 million. It requires a high level of management competency to effectively supervise all that has been entrusted to this ministry.

I wish we lived in a world where Christians could fully focus on what we feel the Lord has called us to do without also having to worry about paying a mortgage, putting children through college, caring for aging parents, planning for retirement, etc. But, this is a reality that American non-profits (probably including many of our churches and some government officials) have struggled with for a long time.

What my wife and I have determined – and what I think everybody has to determine for themselves is – what is enough? Anything beyond enough can trap you. I live a very modest life, with a modest house and a modest car. Once Donna and I figured out what was enough for us, we agreed to just give the rest away. In fact, we give quite a lot of it right back to Compassion—we sponsor lots of kids and support every other mission effort that goes out of this place.

The truth is I would work for Compassion for absolutely nothing if it were possible.