Pay and Equalities Survey 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

ACEVO's annual Pay and Equalities Survey is the most comprehensive breakdown of the sector's senior remuneration packages available. The report examines chief executive salaries, benefits and job satisfaction in detail. It also explores the level of equality and diversity in our sector's leadership, and satisfaction levels in the make-up and performance of boards.

The vast majority of civil society CEOs I talk to feel proud and privileged to be leading their organisations. Despite tabloid headlines about fat cat charity CEO pay, they’re really not in it for the money. And they tend to be the type of person that regularly goes above and beyond contractual obligations in their passion for the cause.

So it doesn’t surprise me to discover from this year’s Pay and Equalities Survey that CEOs in our sector work on average 10 additional hours a week – almost one and a half days over the standard five. This means that this year, the average charity CEO will spend three months working for no pay.

Most will see this as simply part of the package – a symptom of stretched resources and growing need. That doesn’t mean that trustees should take this unpaid good will for granted. It should never be expected or acceptable practice for employees to consistently work outside the hours they are paid for.

There are many things that motivate the kind of passionate, committed individuals who lead our charities and social enterprises. Things that don’t require big budgets or huge resource. Things like regular appraisals, shared objectives and opportunities for personal growth.

Yet over a third of sector CEOs do not have a regular appraisal (up from a quarter last year), half have no current set of objectives, and 56% don’t have any personal development budget.

Development and growth need to be prioritised for all staff, including CEOs, because those opportunities will enable leaders to create inclusive work environments that facilitate better well-being and greater productivity. At its core, this means healthier workplaces that can better achieve their mission.

As well as highlighting where things can improve, this year’s Pay and Equalities Survey shows some positive developments. The number of female CEOs has increased again from 57% in 2017 to 63% in 2018. This is at odds with many surveys looking at the largest charities by income but suggests that there are a large number of women leading small and medium-sized charities.

But, as in previous years, the percentage of black and minority ethnic (BAME) CEOs is too low (6%), especially considering that a large proportion of respondents came from London and the South East, which has a higher percentage of people from a BAME background than the country as a whole. The number of disabled CEOs was also underrepresentative of the UK. So while the number of female CEOs has increased, the data indicates that this is broadly limited to white, non-disabled women.

The average salary has increased slightly from £50,000 in 2017 to £52,000 in 2018. This is still well below a high of £60,000 in 2013. Public discussion about executive pay in the charity sector is often limited to data from the top 100 organisations, the charity equivalent of using data from the FTSE 100 to infer the salary of the CEO of a local business. One of the reasons this survey is important is that it is the only one that looks at the pay in charities of all sizes. I would like to thank ACOSVO and CO3 whose support enables us to gather a national picture of CEO pay and equalities, as well as colleagues from CAF who collate and analyse the responses. Thanks too to Russam GMS for its ongoing support for this research.

Despite the challenges many CEOs encounter, and the long hours they work, it is heartening that 89% of CEOs say they would recommend working in the charity sector and 80% of CEOs think it likely they will still be working in the charity sector in five years. This is a sector full of energy, passion and commitment and ACEVO is proud to support its members to make the biggest possible difference.


ACEVO member £48

Charity non member £65

Corporate/non charity £95 

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