Almost a third of people think that charity chief executives should work for free, according to a survey by the sector research organisation nfpSynergy.
A poll of 1,000 adults carried out in November asked respondents whether they thought people involved with charities in various categories – such as trustees, support staff and street fundraisers – should be paid.
Thirty-one per cent of those polled said charity chief executives should definitely not or probably not be paid; 44 per cent said they should probably or definitely receive a salary.
Twenty per cent of respondents said charity support staff should not be paid, compared with 56 per cent who thought they should; 37 per cent thought charity directors should not receive salaries.
However, 63 per cent of respondents thought charity shop managers should be paid; 16 per cent thought they should not.
The survey also asked respondents if they thought people in the various categories were paid.
Eighty-one per cent of people thought charity chief executives were paid, while 62 per cent mistakenly thought charity presidents were salaried. Almost a third of respondents incorrectly believed street fundraisers did not receive a wage.
Rob White, marketing officer at nfpSynergy, said there was a lot of confusion over who was being paid in charities and who was not.
"Charities are clearly still not explaining who is paid, who works for free and why their staff are value for money," said White. "When will charities learn that they must explain to donors why they need to spend money on salaries?
"Nearly two-thirds of people mistakenly think a president is paid. Our advice is that, if you have a president, get rid of their title and call them something else or many donors will be thinking they draw a wage."