Average charity chief executive pay rises for first time since 2013, survey finds

The annual study by the charity leaders body Acevo shows the median salary was £52,000 in 2018, £2,000 up on the previous year

The pay of charity chief executives has increased for the first time since 2013, according to Acevo's latest annual survey, published today.

But the gender pay gap in favour of men has increased significantly after being reduced to almost zero last year.

Acevo, a membership organisation for third sector leaders, has surveyed chief executives' pay most years since 2008.

Recent years have seen salaries and the gender pay gap fall, but both trends have been reversed this year.

Acevo's Pay and Equalities Survey 2019 reveals that the median average salary of a chief executive in 2018 was £52,000, which is by £2,000 up on the previous year.

The highest salary at the 528 charities that took part in the survey in November last year was £214,000; the lowest was £9,500.

An Acevo spokeswoman said there was no obvious reason for the boost to salaries.

However, 56 per cent of chief executives reported that their basic annual salary went up in 2017/18, compared with 49 per cent in 2016/17, which suggests more charities are ending pay freezes and awarding cost-of-living increases.

The average salary remains lower than the £60,000 figure of 2013, which was the last time it increased.

Charity leaders in London earn the most (a median average of £72,750) while chief executives in Scotland (£45,077) earn the least.

Those running charities with incomes above £15m receive on average of £117,500; those running charities with incomes below £1m receive an average of £42,500.

One of the most striking aspects of this year's survey is the widening gender pay gap.

The gap had fallen consistently from 18.6 per cent in 2013 to 3.8 per cent last year, but now stands at 13.8 per cent, with male chief executives earning on average £58,000, compared with £50,000 for women in the same role.

The report says there are "no definitive drivers" for this, but suggests it could be because a smaller proportion of men completed the survey this year, plus other factors relating to age and organisational income.

Melissa Baxter, director of executive search at the executive and interim management provider Russam GMS, which sponsors the survey, said: "It is nevertheless concerning that for a sector where the bulk of the workforce are women there appears to be a significant pay gap at the most senior levels."

Ninety-three per cent of chief executives said they were from white ethnic backgrounds, compared with 95 per cent in 2017 and 97 per cent in 2016.

Most others identified as coming from mixed or multiple ethnicities, or from Asian backgrounds.

"No respondents identified themselves as from Black/African/Caribbean/Black British backgrounds this year," the report says.

Just 11 per cent of respondents said they had an impairment, health condition or learning difference – down from 16 per cent in 2017.

These respondents earned an average of £45,450, more than £6,000 less than the overall average. This pay gap of 14 per cent compares with one of zero last year.

The survey asked for the first time how many extra hours chief executives typically worked each week. The answer was 10.

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: "Long hours are often accepted as a symptom of limited resources facing unlimited demand.

"But working an extra one and a half days over the standard five can seriously affect wellbeing and even lead to burnout.

"Trustees need to take seriously their duty of care to chief executives as well as the organisations and beneficiaries they serve."

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