Charity sector salaries 2018: How much should your next job pay?

Third Sector has analysed more than 1,500 job ads across 13 disciplines to find the answer. PJ White reports

It's that time of year when people start to plan their goals for the year ahead and some will naturally think about changing roles. So, if you do decide to switch employer, how much should you expect your new post to pay?

The Third Sector team has analysed more than 1,500 job adverts placed on the Third Sector Jobs website to bring you the answer. The jobs have been divided into 13 disciplines and those based inside London have been separated from those outside. The jobs on offer at charities with annual incomes of less than £10m have been separated from those with incomes above that amount to give an indication of how organisation size affects the salaries that are offered.

Chief executives

The largest salaries, not surprisingly, were offered to chief executives. These posts also showed the widest variation according to organisation size. Within London, the average offer to chief executives of smaller charities was £60,000, rising to more than double that for charities with incomes of more than £10m.

Interestingly, the next-highest-paid group did not show such a large variation between small and large organisations. The average salary for a head of marketing, comms and PR in a smaller charity was about £59,000. The comparable figure for larger charities was only slightly higher at £65,000. This suggests that whereas large organisations are willing, perhaps obliged, to pay a premium for a chief executive, the same pressure does not apply to other senior positions.

The chief executive of a smaller charity outside London could be financially better off moving to a larger organisation in the provinces than to a smaller organisation in the capital. From an average salary of £55,000, a London move brought an increase of just £5,000. By contrast, chief executive pay within larger charities outside London averaged £82,500. This was an exception to the general picture, in which, across the board, average salaries in London were about 20 per cent higher than in the rest of the UK.

Averages give a general picture, but scanning the job adverts placed on Third Sector Jobs provides a more nuanced one. Salaries up to £90,000 have been offered at a London-based medical support and research charity for both a head of general fundraising and a head of policy and research. A university college, with an annual turnover of £6m, also advertised £90,000 for a head of major donor fundraising.

Salaries within London*

Outside London, an international education institute offered £70,000 for a director of marketing and communications. About £80,000 was offered for a head of general fundraising by a medical, research and care charity, with an annual income of about £17m. Taken generally, medical and education charities seem to be among the higher payers in the sector.

Salaries in the UK excluding London*

Low pay tends to be a feature of smaller organisations, but not exclusively. A salary of £12,500 was offered by a local neo-natal charity with an income of just over £100,000 a year for a community fundraising officer role.

But a charity in the east of England working with older people offered a salary of £13,500 for an events officer, despite having an annual income of more than £4m. A very small international development charity based in London offered £17,000 a year for an events officer role.

Only large, London-based charities tended to advertise dedicated digital roles, a further indication that many charities are struggling to invest in digital skills. Last year's UK Business Digital Index found that more than half of charities lacked such skills.

Gabriella Lee, sales director for Third Sector Jobs, says that although charities have a reputation for offering low pay compared with other sectors, the study shows that there's a large variation in the salaries offered in the charity sector. She says those organisations that can't compete on pay should think creatively about how they can attract top talent. "This includes offering flexible working and providing great training opportunities," says Lee.

Additional research by Grace Byrne

*Using the tables

The salary figures are based on more than 1,500 advertisements on the Third Sector Jobs website between October 2016 and November 2017, with the exception of posts for chief executives of larger London charities.

Chief executive roles at larger London charities are often not directly advertised (see Meet the headhunters feature), so these figures have been taken from the reported highest salary in the annual reports of a sample of 15 charities.

The data has been sorted into 13 popular job sectors on Third Sector Jobs. Those based in London have been separated from the rest of the UK. Salaries for larger charities, with annual incomes above £10m, have been distinguished from smaller charities.

Salaries in adverts are often given as "up to" or will include a range, such as £45,000 to £55,000. The tables show the top of the range, not necessarily what a successful applicant will be paid.

The average figure shows the median average, or the mid-point, within each band.

Where the tables indicate "n/a", insufficient salary data was available to make a meaningful comparison.

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