An annual salary survey of 252 charities throughout the UK has found the average pay is as much as 32% below that in other business sectors.

However, there has been a 3.5% rise in median basic pay for voluntary sector workers, according to the 28th edition of the Charity Rewards survey of pay and benefits in the charity sector.

The survey, which examined data from 10,287 job recordings representing 41,017 charity workers, has been published by pay experts Croner Reward, in association with NCVO, which represents 13,000 voluntary organisations in England.

It reveals that the average salary in the sector overall is £32,672. Working in international aid is the highest paid charitable activity, with an average salary of £39,944.

Although in the 12 months from April 2016 to April 2017, the average increase in basic salary was substantially better than in the public sector, charity workers in support roles were among those who received the lowest increase: just 0.1%.

Biggest disparity in salaries pay

According to Croner Reward benchmarking expert Clare Parkinson, the biggest disparity is in salaries pay.

Clare Parkinson said: “As in previous surveys, pay in the charity sector is well below that of other sectors.

“Looking at the whole country, pay for chief executives in charities averages £82,423, which is 30% below the all sector median of £166,516.

“London-based charities are paying seriously below the London all-sector average at director and senior executive level, by 31% to 50%.”

There also remains a stark contrast with charity pay in the regions. Charity workers living in London earn on average £34,124, compared with workers in the West Midlands, who earn an average of £28,600. Those in Scotland earn £28,420, on average.

Within charities the highest paid director jobs are in IT, followed by science and finance. While at junior management level the highest earners are in purchasing and supply, specialist, and information services.

Clare said: “Croner Reward is one of the most accurate and knowledgeable benchmarking resources in the UK, which charities can utilise to set their pay and benefits packages for employees.

“This ensures that charities are able to recruit and retain the right staff, which is essential to the success of every great charity.”

Karl Wilding, head of policy and communications at NCVO, said: “Looking ahead, NCVO’s members report concerns about the potential impact of Brexit in relation to recruiting staff.

“For some, including medical research charities, this is an issue relating to the highly skilled, such as research scientists. For others in areas such as social care, this relates to lower skilled roles.

“These pressures may indeed come to pass. Others argue that the tighter controls on migration may finally force employers to confront what many argue has been the UK’s poor record on skills and training.

“In these changing, uncertain times, we will need good quality labour market information more than ever.”

Charities interested in accessing Croner Reward’s benchmarking solutions should call 0808 145 3385 or visit www.croner.co.uk