Charities are almost three times as likely as private companies to have imposed a pay freeze during the recession, according to the annual Charity Rewards survey.
The survey of 301 charities by pay survey specialist company Croner Reward reveals that 11 per cent of charities imposed a pay freeze in the 12 months to May this year, when the data was gathered.
A survey of private companies conducted by Croner at the same time found that only 4 per cent had frozen pay.
The survey suggests that charities are feeling the impact of the recession more acutely than private companies.
Those charities that did award pay rises awarded 2.8 per cent on average, compared with 2.9 per cent in the private sector.
Respondents were also asked what they expected pay rises to be in the year to May 2010. Charity sector responses came to an average of 2 per cent, compared with 3 per cent in the private sector.
The survey also found that charity staff earn considerably less than their private sector counterparts. The pay gap widens according to seniority, with charity chief executives earning £70,700 on average - 21 per cent less than their counterparts in the private sector.
But the overall pay gap between the two sectors fell slightly this year to 10 per cent, from 10.3 per cent the previous year and 10.8 per cent in 2005.
Andrew Walker, head of reward at Croner, said charities were becoming more aware of the need to attract the best talent from commercial sectors.
"What is worrying is the shortfall in pay for those at director and chief executive level, where the gap is particularly large and appears to be increasing," he said.
Charity Rewards costs £360 (£310 for charities with turnovers of less than £1m). To order, call 01785 813566.