More than half of people are against paying trustees and a third are against paying CEOs

More than half of people are against paying trustees and a third are against paying CEOs

"Public sceptical about paying any charity staff", says Joe Saxton

  • People are quite well informed about who is paid towards the top of charities, with 80% saying they think chief executives are paid and 74% saying the same about directors. 74% also think charity shop managers are paid.
  • Only half (51%) correctly identified street fundraisers as paid
  • The hot potato of paying trustees features again - a third think they are paid, but only 14% of people think they should be, with more than half (54%) against it
  • Only 2 in 5 (40%) think chief executives should be paid, with 33% against it. 31% think directors should receive a salary, with 39% against
  • A quarter (25%) think street fundraisers should be paid, with 29% of people thinking charity shop helpers deserve a salary

The general public are still not completely sure who is paid in charities, new research shows. The poll of 1000 people, carried out by consultancy nfpSynergy, also found that people are divided on who should be drawing a salary from non-profits.

The study, conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1000 people, found 4 in 5 people know charity chief executives draw a salary, with 3 in 4 (74%) also correctly identifying directors and charity shop managers as paid. But further down the chain, confusion is still rife, with only half (51%) aware that street fundraisers are paid.

The research also adds further fuel to the debate over paying trustees. A third (33%) think they are paid, but only 14% think they should be and more than half (54%) are against it. The results also show that paying chief executives is not a popular move with everyone. A third (33%) thought chief executives should work for free, while 39% believe directors shouldn’t take home any pay.

These levels of support are especially low when compared to nearly a third of people (29%) who want to see salaried charity shop helpers. Even volunteers would be supported by 13% if they claimed a wage.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas Joe Saxton said:

I don’t like this research because it shows the majority of the public don’t want to pay trustees, when for me a charity should be able to decide for itself whether to pay trustees. nfpSynergy should still publish research whether it supports my views or not!

I wonder, however, if the paid CEOs who happily say trustees shouldn’t be paid because of public trust will take any take any notice of the public’s reticence to pay CEOs. If paying trustees is bad for public trust, why isn’t paying CEOs and other directors? The reality is that the public is generally sceptical about paying charity staff at all, let alone at high salaries. We as a sector need to work harder at explaining why senior staff in charities should be paid and those people who like me believe that charities should be able to choose to pay their trustees need to redouble our efforts as well.


Please see the attached slides for more details.

For further comment from nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton, please contact him directly on 07976 329 212 or

SOURCE: nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor, which regularly surveys a representative sample of 1000 16+ year olds throughout mainland Britain’, November 2012 wave.

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To interview nfpSynergy’s Joe Saxton about these findings, please contact him directly on 07976 329212 or If you cannot contact Joe, please contact Rob White (07512 709140; E: for further assistance.

Note to editors:

nfpSynergy ( is a research consultancy dedicated to the not-for-profit sector. They aim to provide the ideas, the insights and the information to help non-profits thrive. They provide a unique insight into the social and charity-related views of everyone from public and parliament to media and business, not to mention not-for-profit organisations themselves. nfpSynergy has a vast and ever-growing knowledge pool and shares this with the non-profit sector, through both paid work and regular free reports and seminars.