The median salary of charity chief executives last year was £55,500, according to the annual pay survey by charity leaders group Acevo, demonstrating that charities have been "taking a responsible position on pay", according to Acevo head Sir Stephen Bubb.
Acevo’s Pay Survey 2014/15, which is based on research carried out in September and October last year, received 636 responses from charity chief executives and chairs, including members of Acevo, its Scottish equivalent Acosvo, the Northern Irish social leaders organisation CO3 and customers of CAF Bank.
The £55,500 median salary is down from £60,000 in last year’s survey, and lower than the median in either of the two surveys that preceded it.
But the report warns that the comparisons are not necessarily like for like, because the introduction of CAF respondents made for a very different profile of respondents than in previous years, including significantly more from smaller organisations.
"This should be borne in mind when looking at comparisons between 2013 and 2014 and can help to explain some of the larger shifts in data," the report warns.
The survey provides median chief executive salaries for charities in different annual income brackets. For charities with incomes of between £50,000 and £1m it was £42,210; for those with incomes of between £1m and £5m it was £61,938; for those with incomes of between £5m and £15m it was £80,000; and for those with incomes greater than £15m it was £105,000.
It says there was a £10,000 gender gap in chief executive pay: the median salary for female respondents was £50,250; for men it was £60,000. Just under half (48 per cent) of respondents were female, up from 45 per cent last year, and women made up the majority of chief executives of smaller charities, but were much less represented in medium-sized and larger organisations.
The survey breaks salaries down by charity type. It shows that the chief executives of animal charities earned the most on average while advisory charities were the lowest payers.
The figures are also broken down by ethnicity. The median salary of the 91.2 per cent of respondents who were white was £53,317, compared with £53,852 for Asian or British Asian respondents, £45,000 for black or black British respondents and £42,460 for those of mixed ethnicity.
"The fact that pay has fallen shows how charities are taking a responsible position on pay in difficult economic times," said Bubb. "But we must not be afraid of setting professional pay levels and arguing the case for salaries that recruit and retain the best people – as well as offering value for money.
"Most concerning in this year’s survey is the continued lack of progress towards a civil society leadership that is more representative of its workers and of the beneficiaries it serves. With 91.2 per cent of chief executive respondents stating their ethnicity as white, and 100 per cent of chairs surveyed saying the same, we have a long way to go."