The survey, which was completed by 724 people from more than 150 charities, reveals declining satisfaction in nearly all areas of working life.
Pay is the most notable concern, with only 49 per cent of staff saying their pay is competitive compared with others in the sector – 13 percentage points less than 2007, shortly before the economic downturn.
The quality of management is the only area that showed signs of improvement.
There were increases in the percentage of staff who said they receive useful feedback on their performance, who feel empowered to take decisions and who are praised for their work.
Frances Hurst, co-founder of Birdsong, said charities appeared to be trying to improve the quality of management to compensate for concerns about pay.
"Clearly, charities aren’t going to suddenly be able to start paying their staff more, but perhaps they are discovering there are other things they can do to help them," she said.
But she said the overriding picture from this year’s survey was bleak: "Things are getting tougher."
For more details, see the full results, which will also be published in Third Sector magazine tomorrow