Charities should be more forthright in explaining to the public where they get their money from and how they spend it, according to Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission.
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Younger said charities enjoyed high levels of public trust because they operated in a "clear space" that was distinct from the state but was not for private benefit.
But charities had to work hard to retain this trust, he told the meeting. "The sector needs to be forthright about where it gets its money from and what it does with it," he said. "If a charity pays its chief executive more than the Prime Minister earns, it should say so and explain why.
"Some charities hide behind a rather old-fashioned view among the public about what they do and how they are run," he said.
Younger told the meeting there should be greater clarity about what services the state was obliged to provide and what should be funded by charitable donations.
"A lot of members of the public ask why they are being asked to give a donation to something that they expect their taxes to fund," he said. "The public needs more clarity about the work that charities do."