Average pay among charity leaders rose 3.6 per cent last year, report finds – Third Sector

27 September 2021 by Andy Ricketts
The latest annual pay study from the membership body Acevo shows median pay rose for voluntary sector leaders in Scotland and Northern Ireland while it fell among those in England
The average salary among charity chief executives has risen 3.6 per cent over the past year, latest figures show. 
The charity leaders body Acevo’s Pay and Equalities 2021 report shows that median annual pay received by the more than 1,000 people who responded was £58,000, up from just under £56,000 last year. 
The survey found median salary among charity leaders in Scotland increased by almost £6,000 to £47,832, while in Northern Ireland the figure was up by almost £1,500 to £53,489.
But median salaries in England fell by almost £2,000 year on year to £65,901.
Acevo said it was encouraging that almost nine out of 10 respondents said they did not need to take a pay cut as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 
Researchers found that the gender pay gap fell from 12.1 per cent in favour of men last year to 7.6 per cent in the latest study.
It is only the second time since 2013 that the figure has been below 10 per cent; the figure was what Acevo called an anomalous 3.8 per cent in 2017. 
The gender pay gap recorded by the study in 2013 was 18.6 per cent. 
Acevo said last year’s study showed that female chief executives who took part in the survey were more likely to be leading smaller organisations than their male counterparts, while men were more heavily represented in medium-sized and larger organisations. 
This pattern is “less evident in 2021”, according to the study. 
The report says there is a “risk of complacency on key governance issues” during the recovery from the pandemic. 
It found that the proportion of charity leaders who reported having no formal salary review on a regular basis had increased 10 percentage points year on year to 49 per cent while the proportion who said they had an up-to-date job description fell six percentage points to 69 per cent. 
But it also found that 60 per cent of respondents thought their board prioritised their wellbeing, up from 54 per cent last year. 
“As the sector builds back better, it is more vital than ever that boards provide robust professional frameworks to support leaders,” the report says. 
Only seven per cent of participants in the study said they were from a BAME background, which Acevo said was too small a proportion to indicate broader trends. However, the membership body said the number of BAME leaders taking part in the study had increased and it would continue to monitor the data over time.
The survey showed that 43 per cent of respondents said they planned to address ethnic diversity on their trustee boards, with only a quarter saying they were happy with the diversity found there. 
Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “The last year presented numerous challenges for charities and their leaders, so it is encouraging to see that satisfaction levels remain high, that most chief executives did not need to take a pay cut as a result of the pandemic and that 75 per cent of respondents still expect to be working in the sector in five years’ time.
“We were encouraged in 2020 to see an increase in the prevalence of regular salary reviews and up-to-date job descriptions; however, this year’s data shows a drop in these figures, which is a cause for concern. 
“While the challenges faced by the sector as it recovers from Covid-19 are significant, organisations will only be able to build back better if boards keep the focus on these key governance processes which allow leaders to make the biggest possible difference.
“Prioritising chief executive wellbeing and professional/personal development is hugely important to ensure that the communities and causes charities work with and for continue to access the best possible service.”
The survey, which was supported by the Scottish and Northern Irish charity leaders bodies Acosvo and CO3, was conducted between 19 March and 6 May and attracted 1,080 responses. 
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