Former NCVO chief given termination payment of three months' pay when he left the umbrella body

Karl Wilding, who stepped down from the top job with immediate effect in January, stayed with the umbrella body until the end of March and then received a payment of almost £28,000

Karl Wilding, former chief executive of the NCVO, received an almost £28,000 termination payment when he left the umbrella body earlier this year. 

Wilding stepped down with immediate effect as chief executive of the NCVO in January after 18 months in the role and 23 years with the organisation so someone who was “not part of the past” could take over. 

He remained with the NCVO until the end of March to support the handover to interim chief executive Sarah Vibert. 

A week after Wilding’s departure, Third Sector saw a report that concluded staff from all marginalised groups experienced “overt oppression” at all levels of the organisation

The report, compiled last year by external consultants, found evidence of “bullying and harassment” on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and disability happening “with impunity”, leaving members of minority groups feeling “unsafe at work”.

It also uncovered “overt and covert oppression”, favouritism and “institutional gaslighting” of junior members of staff. 

The NCVO denied the report had contributed to Wilding's resignation.

The umbrella body’s latest accounts, for the year to the end of March, show Wilding received a termination payment of £27,700 upon leaving the organisation, taking his total pay package for the year to more than £180,000. 

The NCVO said the total package consisted of a salary of £120,000 plus employers’ NI, pension contributions, holiday pay owed plus the termination payment. 

Asked why Wilding was given the termination payment, an NCVO spokesperson said: “Following his resignation, it was agreed with the board of trustees for Karl to work until the end of the financial year. 

“This was to make time for a proper handover, but as this was a period of great change within the organisation and sector, also to ensure the new strategy and structure could bed-in promptly from the start of the new financial year, to ensure the organisation remained stable and focused on the future.

“The board agreed that upon his successful completion of this handover period he would be paid a termination payment equivalent to a further three months’ pay when leaving NCVO, which he did on 31 March 2021. 

“We believed this was the correct decision to help ensure the successful completion of a vital but short handover period, while establishing the new structure and leadership team as swiftly as possible.”

The accounts show that Susan Cordingley, deputy chief executive of the NCVO, was given a “payment in lieu of notice” of £22,455 upon leaving the organisation on 1 February. 

The NCVO spokesperson said Cordingley handed in her notice in summer last year but stayed on to support the organisation with its response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“When Susan’s replacement (Laura Crandley, director of finance and services) was recruited she was able to start in January, so after a handover period, Susan left and was paid in lieu of notice,” the spokesperson said. 

The accounts also show the umbrella body recorded a significantly better than expected financial performance over the course of the year. 

The NCVO had said in early 2020 that it expected to post a £1.3m deficit in 2020/21 because of the pandemic but although income was down by £1.6m on the previous year to £7.5m it ended up with a surplus of £84,000 before investment gains. 

Trading income was down by £2.1m on the previous year mainly because of the impact of coronavirus restrictions on areas such as training, events and meeting room hire. 

But the charity reduced expenditure and received almost £500,000 from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

An organisation-wide restructure led to the loss of 20 posts, including nine compulsory redundancies and 11 voluntary ones, reducing the workforce to 87 posts. 

This included Megan Griffith Gray, director of strategy and transformation, who was made redundant at the end of the year with a £35,500 redundancy payment after 18 years with the NCVO. 

The charity recorded expenditure of £339,000 on redundancy costs. 

The NCVO said it saw record numbers of new members join the organisation in 2020/21, posting 7.1 per cent growth over the course of the year to pass 16,000. 

It said member levels had continued to grow beyond the end of the financial year and stood at almost 16,800. 

Priya Singh, chair of the NCVO, said the umbrella body’s story over the past year reflected the experience of many in the wider charity sector.  

“We have seen demand for our services and resource increase, while many of our revenue-generating activities had to pause,” she said. 

“We also undertook a strategy review with members and a consequent restructure, to ensure that we delivered best value for members and a sustainable future for NCVO.

“I have watched in awe as our dedicated team supporting members and wider civil society pivoted overnight from in-person to remote delivery. 

“Through the hard work of all involved during an incredibly difficult and challenging time, we were able to close the year in a better than anticipated financial position, with a small surplus before investment gains, and felt able to reimburse staff so that all received their full contractual pay for 2020/21.”

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