Bright Advice on Salaries in the Charity Sector

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give - Winston Churchill

According to research, the average salary in the charity sector is £25,000 but it's worth remembering that the sector employs over 608,000 people in total in the UK.

Graduate Schemes 

If you're lucky enough to get a place on Cancer Research's Graduate Scheme, you'll earn a starting salary of £24,000 plus benefits. You can apply for one of five different business streams: Fundraising and Marketing; Policy, Information and Communications; IT; Science and Corporate. 

Cancer Research has a commercial strength that's equivalent to a FTSE 350 company - and so they're positioned to pay competitively for the best people that will help to drive the charity forward. 

There are about 169,000 charities in the UK, employing 608,000 paid workers. About 1 in 50 people in employment in the UK work in charities.

The Wellcome Trust has a fairly new graduate development programme. If you successfully secure a place on this you will receive a salary of £25,000 each year for the duration of their two-year programme.

Charityworks is the network of charities, such as The Children's Society, St. Mungo's and The Children's Trust and they run a management training scheme for graduates. The programme runs for a year and graduates will be paid £15,000. Like Cancer Research, you'll receive the same salary regardless of the area you apply to whether corporate, operational or portfolio.

Entering the sector directly

If you begin your career as a fundraising assistant outside of a graduate scheme, you might earn anything between £15,000 and £25,000 leading to £20,000 and £35,000 as a fundraising officer and up to £60,000 as a fundraising manager.

As you progress up the career ladder a Director of Fundraising may earn up to £80,000 depending on the size of the charity. 

Non-governmental organisations 

The range of typical starting salaries for UK-based (mostly London) roles with non-governmental organisations providing administrative support to overseas programmes (e.g. team administrator, coordinator, research assistant) is the region of £19,000 - £25,000.

If you're thinking the charity sector is for you, commitment to a cause and an ability to make an impact should be prioritised over salaries and benefits

The range of typical salaries for UK posts with a minimum of three years' experience (e.g. project manager or policy manager) is £25,000 - £40,000. Relatively few managerial or directorial posts in a higher salary bracket are available.

A note on executive pay

If you climb to the top of the charity ladder, you could find yourself earning over £100,000. Board level charity pay has come under scrutiny over the past couple of years, with the Charity Commission warning that charities risked losing their reputation if they did not get a grip of executive salaries.

For example, it was reported that Jasmine Whitbread, the Chief Executive of Save the Children is paid £234,000 and the Mary Stopes charity is paying its top executive £290,000.

On the reverse side of that, a number of those in the sector believe that pay increases and good packages are important because high-level jobs involve long hours, large amounts of time away from family, overseeing a budget of over hundreds of millions and responsible for thousands of members of staff.

Like companies, charities want and need the best people for the job, and they do have to compete for the rewards and benefits on offer at organisations in the private sector. 

Read more about: Charities, NGOs and Social Enterprises