Three out of four people think that the salaries of charity chief executives are an administration cost rather than spending on the cause or a fundraising cost, according to research by the consultancy nfpSynergy.
The consultancy's survey of 1,002 people, aged 16 and over, shows that 75 per cent perceive a charity’s chief executive to be an administration cost, four per cent consider a chief executive to be a fundraising cost and three per cent say it is spending on the cause.
The survey, conducted in March and published today, finds that while people estimate that charities spend 36 per cent of their income on administration, they believe that 16 per cent would be a more appropriate amount for them to spend.
The mean proportion of income that respondents thought should be spent on the cause was 63 per cent, but the mean proportion they thought charities actually spent was 39 per cent.
Respondents estimate that charities spend 25 per cent of their income on fundraising but think that 22 per cent would be an appropriate amount.
The top 50 fundraising charities spend an average of 17.8 per cent of their fundraising income on fundraising, the study finds. They also spend an average of 7.6 per cent of their total income on ‘support costs’ and ‘governance’.
Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said the survey showed a gulf between how charities function and the public’s understanding of them. "People think charities spend more on admin and far less on the cause than they find acceptable. The irony is that for the vast majority of charities, what they actually spend on admin is probably even lower than the figure people say they are happy to accept.
"The public see as ‘admin’ things I reckon 99 per cent of charities would see as spending on ‘the cause’, so people feel their money is being far less well spent than it actually is. Charities have a mountain to climb if they are to change the way the public understand them whilst still maintaining donations of time and money," said Saxton.