The View From Here, a remuneration survey by the chief executives body, to be published tomorrow, shows that the median pay for heads of charities in England with more than 1,000 staff rose to £103,000 in 2006/07, up by 3.9 per cent on the previous year.
The figure was calculated by arranging salaries from low to high and taking the number that falls in the middle. This method prevents one or two extremely large or small salaries from distorting the picture.
Almost 800 voluntary sector chief executives responded, about 5 per cent of whom earn more than £100,000 a year.
The highest paid boss is a woman working for an organisation with an income between £5m and £15m. She earns £180,000.
Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said the figures represented good news for the sector. "Increasing salary levels are a good indicator that the professionalism and quality of our leadership is being recognised," he said.
Although chief executives of larger charities are being paid more, the mean average salary for all third sector chief executives fell slightly over the course of the year, from £57,640 to £57,420.
When grouped by type of activity, animal charities come out as the most generous. The median pay for the head of an animal charity is £67,000, £10,000 more than the next highest group.
Diversity is poor. Fewer than 12 per cent of charity chief executives describe themselves as anything other than white British, and only 4.5 per cent say they have a disability.
The research also reveals very little diversity among board members. Responses from more than 300 voluntary sector chairs show that 89 per cent are white British and 72 per cent male. As with chief executives, only 4.5 per cent say they have a disability.
Hamish Davidson, chair and senior partner at recruitment consultancy Rockpools, which sponsored the survey, said the lack of board diversity was depressingly bleak.
"Governance, succession planning and diversity are yet to be substantively addressed and are still staggeringly behind other sectors of economic activity in the UK," he said.
"The sector is creeping towards addressing its shortcomings with regard to these issues, but at a rate that exposes you to charges of simply being non-credible. I am astonished that no one has taken the sector to task."
Of the charity chief executives surveyed, 53 per cent are male. The median pay for male chief executives rose by 3.9 per cent to £57,240, but the median pay for female bosses fell 2.8 per cent on the previous year's figure to £49,543.
The survey also shows that the average charity chief executive works 45 hours a week - 10 more than usually contracted.
- See Editorial, page 10.