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Everything you need to know about the top 10 highest-paying NGO jobs

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by Impactpool

While pay is often the last thing you think about when it comes to assuming a philanthropic job, it's great to know that there are high-paying jobs in the NGO sector, some of which you can aspire to. With that in mind, this article details the top-paying NGO jobs, including salary ranges according to location and how you can apply for these jobs. Furthermore, we explore the top attractive destinations for high-paying NGO jobs. 


Entry-level compensation at Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

There is a great number of NGO workers who work on a volunteer basis or are interns and receive little to no income. But once you step out of that threshold, NGO workers obtain fair compensation for their work. According to ZipRecruiter, an NGO employee under the 25th percentile, which accounts for many entry-level jobs, earns about $30 000 annually. While this is a good indication of what an entry-level NGO worker could get, several factors influence pay, including employment location and the number of skills you have. When you increase your skill set and experience and even seek to find work in locations known to pay workers higher, NGOs aren't hesitant to offer their workers high salaries. 

The highest-paying NGO jobs 

In case you're seeking to climb the NGO career ladder and earn a good salary, it's great to know that high-paying roles are available. Below are some of the highest-paying NGO jobs, including a breakdown of how to apply for these roles. 

  • Lead Data Scientist 

Data Scientists at NGOs are responsible for sourcing data for reports to deepen its impact on policymakers. Furthermore, they assist in the decision-making process regarding choosing which programs to follow through. Data Scientists are considered valuable when it comes to foreseeing an NGOs outcome; however, many NGOs do not employ Data Scientists because they're considered an expensive hire. Hence, you'll need to dig deep to find openings for Lead Data Scientists at an NGO. 

The average Lead Data Scientist Salary as of 2022 is $142 522 yearly.

Other countries: Data Scientist's Salary in the United Kingdom is 40 384 euros annually. In contrast, the average salary for a Data Scientist in Switzerland is 97,222 Fr. 61k Fr. - 127k Fr.

How to apply: 

Becoming a Data Scientist at an NGO requires earning a Data Science degree. Additionally, you will be required to hone your skills in programming, machine learning, and grappling with big data. Some NGOs may require that you assume an entry-level data scientist job in the past. 

  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)

A COO at an NGO assumes many operative and administrative responsibilities, including implementing business plans and identifying key performance indicators. Furthermore, COOs help create long-term organizational strategies and ensure staff members help achieve the Board of directors' vision. 

The average Chief Operating Officer salary as of 2022 is $116 177 annually. 

Other countries: The average COO salary in France is 111 605 euros per year. 

How to apply: 

Many NGOs prefer COOs with a Master's degree or higher in Business; however, you may still become a COO with a bachelor's degree. You also need experience working in a leadership position. Finally, having experience working in an environment where resources are constrained may prove beneficial. 

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) 

Typically, any Chief Executive Officer of an organization will earn significantly high, as the CEO takes on most of an organization's managerial responsibility and direction. In addition, NGO CEOs are responsible for overseeing daily operations, assessing fundraising capabilities, and assigning work to other managers. With that in mind, CEOs of NGOs earn less than CEOs in the private sector considering for-profit sectors are likely to perform better financially. Nonetheless, you'll likely be amongst the best-paid employees by being a CEO at an NGO.

The average Chief Executive Officer Salary as of 2022: $106 044 annually

Other countries: The average NGO CEO salary in Kenya is Ksh 2 million, and the United Kingdom is 45 825 euros annually. 

How to apply: 

Becoming a CEO at an NGO requires a postgraduate degree; however, a graduate qualification may suffice in some instances. In addition, potential NGO CEOs need to have past experience in leadership positions. You should also have strong interpersonal communication and strategic problem-solving abilities. 

  • Development Director 

The typical role of a Development Director at an NGO includes finding potential donors to fund NGO programs and maintaining donor relationships. They are also responsible for maintaining relationships with other financial partners. Furthermore, Development Directors prepare and present reports concerning fundraising activities to senior management. 

The average Development Director salary as of 2022 is $80 612 annually. 

Other countries: The average salary of a Development Director in the United Kingdom is 71 712 euros. The average salary for a Business Development Director in Switzerland is 161144 Fr. 

How to apply: 

Becoming an NGOs Development Director requires a bachelor's degree in Business, Nonprofit management, or a similar field. Furthermore, you may need up to 4 years of experience in a business development role. Before becoming a Development Director, you need skills that include proficiency with MS Office, excellent computer skills, and proficiency with social media. 

  • User Experience Designer (UX Designer) 

A UX Designer ensures a non-governmental organization's digital products are up to par and engaging for its users. This may include creating functional branding for an NGOs digital platforms, analyzing trends and user behaviors, and developing a user experience that will attract donors.

The average UX Designer's salary at an NGO as of 2022 is $96 982 annually. 

Other countries: The average salary for a UX Designer in Kenya is KSh 1757345.

How to apply:

To become a UX Designer, you don't necessarily have to have a Computer Science degree. All that's required is you take a UX Design course and get some hands-on experience. 

  • Director of Communications

An NGO’s Director of Communications develops and oversees the organization's communication and Marketing strategies. Other responsibilities include managing NGOs Fundraising events and coordinating sponsorship programs. 

The average Director of Communications salary as of 2022 is $70 979 annually. 

Other countries: Switzerland's average salary for a Communications Director is $172223 yearly.

How to apply: 

The minimum requirement to become a Communications Director is to earn a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Public Relations, or a similar field. Then, obtain experience working in the Communications Department of an Organization. While not necessary, getting an advanced degree may be beneficial for bagging the job. 

  • Compliance Officer 

Compliance Officers work closely with Program Management Units to provide seamless and rigorous contract management support for all project offices, regardless of funding source and donor contract. Their understanding of Donor rules and regulations is crucial in designing and implementing programs that comply with Donor authority. 

The average Compliance Officer salary as of 2022 is $59 072

Other countries: The average salary for a Compliance Officer in Kenya is KSh 788159, while Compliance Officers in the United Kingdom earn 49 222 euros annually. 

How to apply: 

A BA Degree or work experience in international development is required. Furthermore, you need to demonstrate a deep understanding of the rules and regulations of Donors in the country of employment. Additionally, you should have exceptional communication, auditing, and analytical skills. 

  • Grants Manager

An NGO’s Grants Manager is responsible for managing externally funded programs. They assess the grantor's guidelines and regulations and ensure the organization allocates the funding to the appropriate needs. Finally, Grant Managers strive to create persuasive proposals for fundraising applications and renewals.

The average Grants Manager salary as of 2022 is $60 093 annually. 

Other countries: The average pay for a Grants Manager in France is €60,278

How to apply:

A bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Public Relations, or a similar field is required to become a Grants Manager. You also need experience working in a grants program and excellent writing and research skills. 

  • Program Director 

A Program Director's main responsibility is researching, planning, and overseeing programs and ensuring their success. They engage in milestone and deadline planning to fulfill this responsibility, develop and approve budgets, and define project objectives. 

The average program Director's Salary as of 2022 is $56 493 annually.

Other countries: The average salary for a Program Director is $94507 per year in Paris, France. 

How to apply: 

Becoming a Program Director at an NGO typically requires three or more years of experience in a managerial position. You will also need to have a management-related Bachelor's degree. 

  • Philanthropy Manager

A Philanthropy Manager is responsible for handling the major gifts that an NGO receives. In addition, to attract major donors, they plan events, pitch the program to related donors and organizations, and develop friendly relationships with people who can make major donations.

The average Philanthropy Manager's Salary as of 2022 is $60 147

Other countries: The average Philanthropy manager salary in the United Kingdom is £38116 annually. 

How to apply: 

To become a Philanthropy Manager, you need a bachelor's degree in fundraising or public relations and several years of fundraising experience. Being able to write and communicate well is crucial. Finally, good relationship-building skills may be an asset to your potential employer. 

Attractive hubs to find the highest-paying NGO jobs

With jobs in the impact sector often being borderless, here's a list of countries with a high NGO presence and a greater likelihood for you to land a high-paying NGO job.  

United States of America (USA)


The United States is known for its considerable NGO presence. About 1.5 million NGOs exist in the US, taking on various issues such as environmental advocacy, economic development, and healthcare. They often seek to fill the gaps in addressing social and economic problems that governments fall short in. Despite tackling issues that the government cannot handle, most NGOs are not politically motivated. Instead, NGOs in the US are usually formed by volunteer organizations rooted in shared faith groups, interests, or labor unions that help vulnerable people. The US is a great cultivating ground for NGOs, as locally operating NGOs in the US can easily attain funding. Funding comes from various sources, such as grants from the government, donations from private individuals, for-profit companies, and philanthropic foundations. Contrastingly, foreign NGOs find it a little harder to get funding in the US, but with a few tactics, it's not impossible. Nonetheless, the vibrancy of the US funding environment helps the industry stay afloat, access resources, and pay workers. The US nonprofit has 12.3 million employees, accounting for roughly one in 10 jobs in the US. 

United Kingdom (UK)

The UK has seen a considerable jump in NGOs operating in the country. According to research, there was a spike in NGO establishments in the mid-2000s, and between 2009 and 2015, the UK's NGO presence increased by 30%. Interestingly, the NGO presence in the UK has more to do with donor actors and headquarters presence rather than actual on-the-ground charitable causes. Hence, if you're looking for jobs in the impact sector, but don't necessarily want to be in the field, then the UK may be a good choice to start your search. Furthermore, if you're looking for high-paying jobs, the UK is a great destination, with Salary Explorer recording the average Fundraising and Nonprofit salary as 85 600 GBP. 


Switzerland's NGO sector is rich in size and scope. Its oldest known NGO was founded in 1354 through the will of Anna Seiler, a wealthy woman from Switzerland. By 2011, Switzerland was recorded to have 12 700 charitable foundations, contributing a total endowment of approximately CHF70bn. According to research, today, Switzerland is the most generous nation in Europe and is one of the ideal environments to start an NGO due to political stability and a fair legal framework. Furthermore, Switzerland is another destination known for its high salaries. Finally, getting a job in Geneva, Switzerland, is ideal as many International Development organizations and NGOs are based in Geneva. Some notable headquarters of NGOs and International Organizations in Geneva include the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Red Cross, Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), and the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE). 


The NGO sector in Kenya is known to be the most thriving in Africa. According to the NGOs Co-ordination Board, there are about 11 624 Non-governmental Organizations in Kenya. These organizations represent a combined 70 426 employees, 52.5 percent being salaried, while the remaining 47. 5 percent are volunteers. Most NGOs in Kenya are centered around assisting in sectors such as health, children, education, and disaster management. Many NGO sector jobs are on the ground, providing direct relief to people. The counties with the largest amount of NGO operations In Kenya is Nairobi, with about 221 NGOs, followed by Kisumu and Kiambu, with 94 and 89 NGOs, respectively. 


The size of NGOs in France is relatively small; France's biggest NGO is the size of the US's 100th largest Foundation. However, the sector has grown incredibly, with France's philanthropic contributions considered extensive globally. It recently adopted more sophisticated work practices, infrastructure, and favorable legislation to expand its sector further. A shortfall of France's NGO sector is that it isn't daring in terms of the causes it advocates for. France's philanthropic organizations mainly contribute to health and medical research, social welfare, education, and initial training. If your interests lie elsewhere, e.g., working for a faith-based organization, France may not be your ideal destination. 

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