Sir William Castell, chair of the giant scientific and medical research charity the Wellcome Trust, was paid £137,290 in 2011, and his deputy, Professor Peter Rigby, was paid £102,968.
The eight governors – the equivalent of trustees – were each paid £68,645 by the trust, which has always paid trustees since its foundation by the pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome 75 years ago.
The payments are the highest cited in a survey by Third Sector of four charities that pay their trustees. Another one that remunerates is CfBT Education Trust, which pays five trustees up to £12,000 a year at the rate of £350 a day.
The other two are the mental health care charity the Richmond Fellowship, which pays the chair £12,000, the chair of the audit committee £8,000 and another five trustees £5,000 each; and the RNIB, which paid its chair £24,000 in 2011 as compensation for loss of earnings.
The survey was prompted by the recommendation in Lord Hodgson’s recent review of the Charities Act 2006 that charities with income of more than £1m a year should be allowed to pay their trustees without obtaining permission from the Charity Commission to change their governing documents.
Simon Jeffreys, chief operating officer of the Wellcome Trust, said governors devoted at least 30 days a year to the charity. "They are on several committees and do overseas visits as part of the review process," he said. "They put in a great deal more time and effort that would be normal for a non-executive director.
"You may well find charities where trustees give 30 days a year and don’t get paid, but you need to look at the level of seniority, the expertise, the experience and the qualifications of our trustees, and the amount of time they spend."
The trust committed £642m in charitable funding to projects in 2011.