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January 16, 2018


Executive Compensation at United Way

by Anne Paddock

United Way may refer to a number of charitable organizations throughout the world but in the United States, United Way generally refers to United Way Worldwide (formerly United Way of America) and/or one of the 1,400 offices in 40 countries and territories.

United Way Worldwide is the leadership and support organization for the whole network which includes approximately 1,200 local offices (approximately 85% of the total number of offices) in the United States (including DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). A non-profit 501 (c) (3), United Way Worldwide is required to submit an IRS Form 990 (a tax return that provides details on revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities, and more) annually, as does each of the local offices. 

245 people were employed and compensated $27.6 million by United Way Worldwide in 2015, which equates to an average compensation of $113,000, although only 80 staff received a compensation package greater than $100,000.

The IRS Form 990 (2015) reports $5.6 million in compensation to 15 executives – an average of $335,000 each – at the national level which is summarized as follows:

  • $1,236,611:  Brian Gallagher, President and CEO
  • $  441,470:  Stacey Stewart, President United Way USA
  • $  404,128:  Joseph V Haggerty, EVP Chief Operating Officer
  • $  391,064:  Robert Berdelle, EVP and CFO
  • $  351,933:  Victoria Lins, Former EVP Brand Marketing (terminated 9/30/2015)*
  • $  348,572:  Evan Hochberg, EVP Impact Strategy Innovation
  • $  324,850:  Brian Lachance, SVP Chief of Staff
  • $  315,572:   Jose Ferrao, EVP International Network
  • $  270,198:  Paul DeBassio, EVP Investor Relations
  • $  266,966:  Patricia Turner, SVP and General Counsel
  • $  261,848:  John Taylor, VP and Chief Technology Officer
  • $  254,464:  Steve Taylor, VP Counsel Public Policy
  • $  232,092:  Marci Young, VP EIH Strategic Partnerships
  • $  227,931:  Tracy Nilles, VP Development
  • $  168,052:  Sherry Brach, Former EVP Investor Relations (terminated 6/30/2015)

* The severance terms included the equivalent of 4 months of salary plus $23,625 in incentive compensation for work performed in 2015.

As illustrated above, 9 of the 15 most highly compensated employees (or 60%) are male and 6 are female (or 40%). In the top half, there are 6 males and 2 females while in the bottom half, there are 3 males and 4 females.  If the two employees who were terminated were not considered, then 9 of the 13 executives or 69% are male and 4  (or 31%) are female.  In the top half, there are 6 males and 1 female while in the bottom half, there are 3 males and 3 females.

The 990 also reports the following information:

The President and CEO has four components to his/her compensation package:  base salary and annual performance incentive, health and welfare benefits, retirement benefits, and other benefits.

The 2015 base salary was $540,000 and the annual performance incentive for the President and CEO was $175,000.

The CEO is provided both qualified and non-qualified retirement benefits. The CEO  receives 10% of his/her salary annually on a deferred basis with an initial vesting of 3 years and annually thereafter. In addition, the CEO is provided with a deferred compensation plan of $180,000 annually vesting after 3 years and 2 years thereafter.

Other benefits to the CEO and executives “would include such items as:  automobile allowances and temporary housing where applicable, for executives that relocate to join United Way Worldwide.

In 2015, United Way Worldwide advanced taxes in the amount of $19,396.19 for CEO Brian Gallagher’s SERP accrual. This amount was rerouted on his W-2 as deferred compensation.

It is important to note the 1,200 local United Way offices pay 1% of revenue to United Way Worldwide according to the United Way Worldwide website.

There are those who will wonder why United Way Worldwide needs to spend $27.6 million on 245 employees and specifically why the organization pays more than $1 million to its President and CEO  when the primary mission of United Way is to distribute funds to local organizations.  Given that most of the grants awarded by United Way Worldwide are to local United Way offices, a donor may wonder how these high salaries are justified.

To read a copy of the IRS Form 990 (2015) click here.

To read an updated Executive Compensation at United Way (2016),, click here.

To read an updated Executive Compensation at United Way (2017), click here.

Click on “Executive Compensation at United Way (2018)” for an update.

Click on “Where Does $100 to United Way (2018) Go” for an update.

  1. Daisy
    May 8 2020

    Seconded on Trudeau to splashing money out on United Way. The CEO of United Way Greater Toronto makes half an million managing a small local office of around 200 employees. Average compensation per employee is $120K. Yet most work are done by volunteers, unpaid students and minimum wage contract employees.

    The organization never helps the community, but to repackage the same issues every year for donations so they can make a fat cut. Social problems only get worse, more excuses to use for more money to come in. Sadly government and the big corps are in the same game. It’s just a show, for image not for people. Shame on them all!

  2. James Mccann
    Mar 29 2020

    Thank you Trudeau from all of us Seniors………..
    You gave United Way these Millions of dollars under the pretext that it’s going to Seniors.
    Look at the Salary of the top 15 executives in United Way.
    The few Million Dollars of our Tax Money you just gave United Way will in this time of horror for all the seniors surely make sure they still get there sick Salary and Bonuses.
    SENIORS ! SPEAK UP NOW…….That’s our Money they are spreading out amongst these greedy Few.!

  3. Jacqueline King
    Mar 19 2020

    I will never donate to the United Way. I will try to find a way to help someone in need directly. So for ever dollar donated a big chunk is going to the pockets of greedy executives. The folks lower in the organization who are doing all of the work are probably getting next to nothing. What a waste!

  4. Dodo D.
    Feb 11 2020

    Shame on them for enjoying tax exemptions and exclusively use of volunteers aka free labours to operate while executives are receiving over the market compensation. It’s simply not right but people are still donating to allow those workers receive fat pay cheques. Why? Just save the money for your retirement or to help family / friends / neighbors.

  5. Ashley W
    Dec 5 2019

    Simple, it is not justified. Charity is on staff (fat pay cheques) rather than people in need in the community (receive useless services or peanuts). I seriously dont know why people donate except for offsetting tax payable or gain favours in yacht club. Donors need to realize that they are donating to an organization where employees get higher pay, more benefits, and work shorter hours than them. If one truly wants to do good, start to look around and help people they know well who are in need. Why pays a money sucking middle person to take a cut of your donation for their own benefits?

  6. Feb 20 2019

    it amazes me how that these executes at these charities has salaries 2 times our congress and senators have! Then they run commercials on tv trying to make you feel guilty for not giving more money when you are working for minimum wage and struggling to pay your own electric bill.

  7. Feb 1 2019

    You may want to think twice about the Salvation Army. First, they are not transparent. They claim they are a church (I’ve yet to see the first Salvation Armian church) and so they don’t have to file a Form 990…and, yet they feel justified to continue to ask and take donations. If any charitable asks for public donations, they have a DUTY to disclose how they spend those donations.

    Second, because they “are” a church, they do not have to pay real estate taxes on ANY real estate (and, they have an estimated $8 billion in real estate in the US…could even be more, including the homes they provide for many of their executive employees – see the link below on the IRS Form 990’s they do file – only territorial ones. By not being required to pay real estate taxes, the burden to pay for schools, education, libraries and government services is on the rest of us.

    Third, no one knows how much they pay their executives because they are not required to report this information (again, because they are a church).

    You may want to read the following:

    For me, I wouldn’t give them a dime.

  8. S K B
    Feb 1 2019

    Always check a charity before you donate. Find
    out how much that CEO makes because I am absolutely repulsed and disgusted at how much charities skim off the top for the big shots.
    It not right. It ripped us off it rips the designated recipient off all so the CEO and staff can live lives
    of relative luxury. Go with more modest
    charities like Salvation Army.

  9. Mickey
    Jan 29 2019

    Biggest waste of money I have ever seen.

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