Voluntary sector pay on the rise

Indira Das-Gupta

The average basic salary for voluntary sector employees has increased faster than in the private sector, a new survey shows.

The research, by salary data experts Remuneration Economics, reveals that the average voluntary sector salary has grown by 5.3 per cent in the past year, up from 4.1 per cent in 2004. This compares with growth of 4.3 per cent in the private sector.

The boost can be partly explained by rising employment levels - one in 50 of the working population is now employed in the third sector.

Karl Wilding, head of research at NCVO, said: "While we are competing for highly talented staff in a labour market that isn't defined by sector, it is important to remember that this is only one year's data and that we are starting from a much lower base than the private sector."

The survey was based on information from 178 organisations employing nearly 10,000 people.

The research also shows that bonuses were paid to only 9.7 per cent of charity employees, down from 11.2 per cent the previous year.

Performance-related pay is not widespread, with just 31.3 per cent of staff benefiting from such packages, although this increases to 42 per cent in larger charities.

The report reveals that resignation rates are up to 10.2 per cent, from 7.3 per cent in 2004, and high rates of staff turnover have been experienced by nearly half of the organisations questioned. The most common reasons for this are the inability to offer competitive salary levels and a lack of career progression.

Similarly, 62.7 per cent of those surveyed said they were experiencing recruitment problems because of salary levels and a lack of suitably trained candidates. This compares with 58.7 per cent in the private sector.

The findings follow a recent Acevo report (Third Sector, 12 October) which revealed that the salaries of chief executives in the sector have also increased.

Richard Evans, chief executive of charity recruitment agency CfA, said: "The findings don't surprise me. My experience is that average salaries in the voluntary sector are beginning to compare more favourably with those in the private sector. Chief executives in particular are finding it easier to negotiate better pay packages.

"One way to overcome recruitment problems is to think more creatively and recruit from other sectors."

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