Pay and Benefits: Is The Charity Sector Catching Up?

By Adam Turner
22 Nov 2017

For many who work in the charity sector your job is a calling rather than a means to an end.

The passion and drive that exists for the causes of charities cannot be out-shone by any other sector. Whether the focus is woodland conservation, to community support, or fundraising to help people in need around the world – the sector’s causes are a beacon of light in the world of work. But working for a good cause does seem to come at a price – with pay being up to 32% behind other sectors for some roles, and as much as 50% behind other sectors in London. The data has been provided from a recent survey of 252 charities by pay and benefits experts Croner Reward and champions of the voluntary sector NCVO. According to Laura Sharratt from Croner times are changing for the sector. “Pay is historically less for the Charity Sector but most charities offer many other favourable benefits and working conditions, which help charities recruit and retain the best talent, says Laura. “We are also seeing an increase in the in prevalence of performance related bonuses, which is a mechanism that is on the up in the Charity Sector as a way to reward excellence. This is quite a new thing for the sector but more and more charities are already seeing the benefits and adopting these reward schemes.”

The Millennials and their pay expectations

Despite the good strides charities are making towards improving pay and benefits for employees, there is still a little way to go, particularly as a younger generation join the workforce. “As the Millennials generation gather experience and start moving up within organisations, charities will need to respond to the changing workforce and their expectations of their employers, says Laura. “With Brexit on the horizon and most young people being priced out of the housing market, young people are going to have to earn more to have the same quality of life as the previous generation, so there is likely to be an expectation that pay and benefits rise. “If pay and benefits don’t rise in the future then this may lead to the most talented workers moving out of the Charity Sector and into other sectors, where they have less affinity with the values of their employer, but the remuneration packages are more aligned with the level of their skills and experience. “Saying this young people will still follow their passions and it’s clear working for charities is more than about earning money, it’s about living and breathing your values through your day to day work.”

The effect of Brexit on wages

There will also be other pressures on the Charity Sector’s future ability to recruit and - according to the NCVO, Brexit will have a big effect. Karl Wilding, head of policy and communications, says: “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.”

Pay in the Regions

Regionally, the salary picture is a mixed bag. If you work in London your pay and benefits are likely to be between 31% and 50% behind other sectors. But what is the picture elsewhere in the UK? The 28th edition of the Croner Charity Rewards Survey of pay and benefits in the charity sector, surveyed over 250 UK charities and over 40,000 employees and found a number of regional differences. In London the average charity salary is £34,124 compared to the lowest charity salaries in the UK, which are in Scotland at £28,600 and West Midlands at £28,420, on average.

Executive Pay in the Charity Sector

The chasm in pay and benefits is most profound with Executive roles. The leaders of our charities have pay and benefits packages that are on average 30% behind other sectors. In the UK the average pay for Chief Executives in charities is £82,324, which is well behind the medium median of £166,516 in other sectors. Within charities the highest paid director jobs are in IT, followed by science and finance. While at a junior management level the highest earners are in purchasing and supply, specialist and information services roles.

About Croner Reward:

The 2017 Charity Rewards Survey was published by pay & benefits experts Croner Reward. If you would like to receive a copy of the survey visit or call 0808 145 3384. Pay & benefits expert Laura Sharratt, from Croner, 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.”

About the Author

Image of Croner employee Adam Turner

Adam has been with Croner Reward for 3 years. He has over 15 years’ experience working with various organisations and sectors. He has a strong passion, breadth and depth for job evaluation and salary benchmarking. He has a strong customer focused work ethic, ensuring clients always get the best possible outcome for their organisations from their Reward Projects.

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