Two-thirds of voluntary-sector leaders believe running a major charity is more difficult than running a FTSE-100 company.
The finding is contained in research carried out by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO).
Sector leaders think managing volunteers, leading staff who are on relatively low salaries and trying to meet the demands of a passionate workforce makes their job more challenging than leading public and private organisations.
Despite this, 77 per cent of charity chief executives do not believe they should be paid as much as leaders from other sectors.
ACEVO chief executive Stephen Bubb said: "The voluntary sector is not only about people shaking collecting tins and making jams.
It is a professional and evolving sector with a turnover of billions of pounds and more than half a million staff. This requires leaders with unique and valuable skills."