Senior staff salaries

Quick facts

Britain’s biggest charities are multi-million-pound organisations and need to employ highly experienced managers in order to run effectively and prudently.

Senior charity staff are paid less than their counterparts in other sectors. Their pay levels are set by an independent board of volunteer trustees.

A charity’s senior staff are responsible for ensuring that the charity spends its money prudently, meets its goals, and accounts to donors and the public for what it does and what it spent.

Charities have to say how much they spend on salaries over £60,000 in their publicly available accounts.

Charities need experienced staff in order to operate as effectively as possible.

Evidence on salaries shows that at most levels, employees in charities are paid less than their counterparts in the private or public sectors. The greatest difference between charities and other sectors is at the more senior levels. While junior staff in charities earn around the same as their counterparts in other sectors, more senior staff in charities earn considerably less than their equivalents elsewhere.

Charities need experienced and capable professional staff to ensure their money is used effectively. Senior charity staff are accountable to an independent board of trustees who monitor the performance of the charity and its senior staff.

Senior pay levels are also set by these trustees. Trustees are normally volunteers – they aren’t paid by the charity. They work out a fair salary to attract someone with the expertise necessary while not spending more than they need to.

Charities with an income of over £1m must say how many staff they have paid over £60,000 in their annual accounts, and what they are paid (within £10,000 bands). In 2014, an inquiry recommended that they voluntarily go further and publish exact salaries for their most senior staff, and a number of major charities are now doing this.