Trends & data analysis

Charity Staffing and Pay - Where are we now?

30 June 2017

With the public sector pay freeze in the headlines, what has happened to wages in the charity sector since the crash?   

Charities are an attractive place to work for many reasons but not typically for the high wages. In tight times, when wages across many different sectors have stagnated, what has happened to staff numbers and pay in the charity sector?  Using charity financials data, we looked at the top 5k charities with annual incomes over £10m to find out.

Looking at the ten-year view on numbers of staff, it is interesting to note that the number of people working in these charities has grown every year, apart from 2007/8, when staff levels actually shrunk by 0.38%.

Perhaps this was a reaction to the financial crisis which was at it’s high at that time. Of course, crises create need, and it is equally interesting to note that the year following 2007/8 fall saw the highest growth in the number of charity staff in the last ten years, with the number of staff among our sample increasing by 7.67%.

It is noteworthy that in the same year the number of volunteers, those sometime overlooked charity workers, grew by 63.31%. Growth in the number of volunteers has been more volatile than growth in staff over the period (see graph) with negative growth experienced from 2009/10 to 2012/13, before a big boost in 2013/14. The trend since then has been downward, but growth is still being experienced.




 Overall, figures show growth in the number of charity staff has been fairly stable with the average being 3.8% per year and the most recent year we have figures for 2015/16 showed growth of 4.86%. In terms of actual numbers, there were 142,206 people employed in the charities surveyed in 2005/6 and 201,899 in 2015/16 which is a 41.9% growth over the period.

More staff means paying more wages, and staff costs have predictably increased over the period. Staff costs growth saw its biggest rise in 2008/9, growing across the charities surveyed by 16.98% before falling off, with growth over the following seven years averaging a lower, but still inflation busting, 4.19% year on year.

A somewhat tired controversy that rolls around regularly in the press concerns the number of charity employees on ‘high’ salaries. Looking at the data we can see that of the charities surveyed, growth in the number of staff on salaries over £120,000 consistently outpaced the overall growth rate for staff, sometimes by dramatic amounts.

For instance, in 2006/7 the overall number of staff in charities surveyed grew by 1.51%, meanwhile the number of staff on salaries over £120,000 grew by 71.43%. The overall trend in the growth of these big salaried positions has been down since then but even in 20015/16, the most recent year we have data, it was 5.56%, compared to growth of 4.86% in the general number of staff. This means there were 412 people on salaries over £120,000 in the charities surveyed. 


Share this article
Thomas Collinge

Thomas Collinge is a political and social affairs journalist, and public affairs assistant, at Slack Communications.

Read more articles by this author


Leave a comment

Your Name:
Your Organisation:
Job Title:
Email Address:
Your comment:

Unless you state otherwise, we will publish your comment on the website
Don't publish my comment

Type the letters you see in this picture to verify that a person is creating this email and not an automated program.

The letters are all lowercase