The salary gap between charity finance officers and those in the commercial sector is narrowing, according to the latest six-monthly report from Hays Accountancy Personnel.
Large charities (those with incomes of £50m or higher) were offering £40,000 to £140,000 for finance directors, while smaller charities offered £33,000 to £50,000.
Hays' Guide to Salaries in Accountancy reveals small pay increases across all positions in the second half of 2003. Starting salaries for ledger clerks averaged £18,000 to £18,500.
However, the sector still had problems recruiting and retaining accountancy professionals, particularly in the middle grades.
There was no significant pay gap with the commercial or public sector among partly qualified staff, but there was a perceived lack of opportunities for career advance beyond a certain level.
Andy Robling, director of Hays accountancy public and not-for-profit sectors, explained: "While many individuals enjoy working for the charitable sector, they can become frustrated by the lack of training, development and clear progression. People may be forced into more lucrative commercial or public sector roles."
At senior levels, salary packages are not usually the key recruitment factor, the report says. Most finance directors have moved from generous packages in the private sector and for altruistic reasons are willing to work for less.
Better work-life balance is an important 'pull' factor, it adds. Job shares, flexible working and the chance to participate in the wider activities of the charity were all attractions that should be promoted in recruitment ads.
Figures show huge salary differentials at finance director level among similar-sized charities. Larger charities paid, on average, £50,000 to £75,000 for a finance director, but some had paid up to £140,000 to secure the right person.
Fundraisers' salaries have been creeping up below chief executives and heads of corporate finance, as fundraising recruitment becomes competitive, Robling added.