More than a thousand people employed across various charity organisations in the UK are reportedly paid an annual remuneration that runs into six figures. These salaries are said to be paid by voluntary organisations dependent on donations, endowments or public funding.
According to an analysis by The Times that scrutinised executive pay at Britain's 1,000 highest-earning general-purpose charities:
- Annually, 1,080 executives across 390 organisations receive salaries of at least £100,000 (€137,812, $149,524)
- In some cases, executive pay has soared even though income or donations have reduced
- In 2014, a director at a regional theatre received more than £340,000
- An executive heading a government-funded think tank was paid more than £500,000
- About 11 executives at a planned parenthood charity received an average salary of £144,090
- About 277 staff earned more than the prime minister's salary of £142,500 a year
- Around 12 executives earned more than £300,000 a year
- The highest salary was paid by Britain's largest mental healthcare provider — St Andrew's Healthcare. Philip Sugarman, its outgoing chief executive was paid £751,000 in 2014 including a £389,000 payment in lieu of notice. Besides, 64 of its employees earn more than £100,000, which is far more than the average £20,000 that charity employees are paid.
- WomanCare Global, a reproductive health organisation, was the highest paying general charity. Of the £6.5m income it earned, the charity spent more than 18% on salaries of more than £100,000.
- Huge salaries were also being paid by relatively small charities such as Caudwell Children, a charity that works with disabled children in poverty. Of the £6.2m it earned in 2014, it paid its top employee more than £230,000. Its best-paid employee turned out to be the charity's chief executive — Trudi Beswick. However, a spokesman for Caudwell Children said, "the salaries of the administrative team including the chief executive do not come from general public donations".
Not only did the analysis indicate that some executives enjoyed pay packages that were hugely out of proportion to their peers, it also suggested that many charities were operating contrary to the guidelines on executive pay laid down by the National Council of Voluntary Organisations.
William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission warned that the charities must be able to provide convincing explanations regarding paying such high salaries or risk losing public trust, the report said.
In 2013, top UK charities defended their executives' £100,000 salaries arguing the money is necessary to attract the best people for the job.
The Times report quoted Bernard Jenkin, the chairman of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, as saying, "The charitable sector needs to guard against an arms race in top salaries. There comes a point where a salary does not look charitable."