New research report analyses CEO pay in the top 50 best known charities

New research report analyses CEO pay in the top 50 best known charities

nfpSynergy data looks at five years of CEO salaries in the UK's 50 best-known charities

Charity chief executives have recently found themselves under the spotlight in one area more than any other; their salaries. Plenty has been said about the public objecting to anyone at a charity earning over £100k a year, but we have been looking at how we got to this stage. Our data, drawn from the country’s top 50 most recognisable charities, looks back at the last five years of CEO pay and what drives it.
We discovered that CEO salaries have broadly increased at the same rate as charitable income and that there has been something of a rebalancing in the sector, with higher salaries increasing far more slowly than the lower ones. We have some easy-to-read charts, summarised points and some statistical analysis available should you want it.

The main results:

  • Total income has increased by 17.7% (an average of 3.5% per year), with voluntary income up 11.6% (an average of 2.3% per year)
  • CEO salaries have risen 18% - almost exactly in line with charities' income
  • Staff costs have gone up 24.2% (an average of 4.85% a year)
  • There has been a re-balancing of salaries across the sector – those paying under £100k in 2007 have increased salaries by 38% on average, while those over £100k have increased pay by just 6%
  • Big charities do pay their CEOs more


Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas at nfpSynergy, said:

"Back in the summer, it was easy to get the impression that the pay of some of the CEOs at Britain’s best known charities was out of control. What our research shows is that CEO pay is highly correlated to the total income of the charity and to the staff costs. It also shows that CEO pay grew by 18% between 2007 and 2012 and the total income increased by 17.7%.

So on aggregate, far from CEOs salaries growing massively while their organisational income faltered, the two are closely linked. The task now is to persuade the British public that charity CEOs are worth what they earn, and that an effective CEO is critical to donations being professionally raised and professionally spent."

The report is attached and it has all the details.

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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 (07739 463786; E: for further assistance.
Note to editors:
nfpSynergy is a research consultancy that aims to provide the ideas, insights and information to help non-profits thrive. We help charities track their profile and engagement levels amongst their key stakeholder groups through regular, syndicated surveys. We also work with charities on bespoke projects, providing a range of quantitative and qualitative research services.