‘Significant increase’ in pay rises among charity CEOs, survey finds

Almost three in five charity chief executives have been handed a pay rise during 2022, amid the cost-of-living crisis, a ‘significant increase’ from the previous year, according to a survey of charity leaders.

This survey of almost 900 charity leaders found that 58% of charity reported a pay rise in 2022. This is up on the previous year’s figure of 37%.

The average annual basic salary reported by charity leaders this year is £56,000 as salary reviews become “more common” for CEOs.

The increase in charity leaders receiving a pay rise follows one in 10 taking a pay cut amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as charities finances took a hit through the cancellation of fundraising events and shop closures.

The findings have been revealed in charity leadership body ACEVO’s 2022 Pay and Equalities Survey. This covers a period dominated by rising inflation, which reached double digits earlier this year.

ACEVO also found that seven in ten (71%) of CEOS are being offered flexible working practices, such as working from home or through a four-day week.

But access to appraisals is now at a record low. More than a third (37%) of CEOs are not receiving a regular appraisal of their performance, “the highest percentage yet”, said ACEVO.

Professional development challenges

In addition, access to personal development is worsening, from 60% of charity leaders last year to 50% this year. This lack of access is part of a four-year decline.

Fewer than half (48%) of charity CEOs are satisfied with trustees’ investment in leadership development, substantially down on 2017’s high of 60%.

“This is a trend that ACEVO wants to see reversed as investing in ongoing professional development is essential to maintaining strong and effective leadership that keeps pace with change,” said the charity leadership organisation.

ACEVO chief executive Jane Ide said: “It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a return to some stability in senior leader pay and reward and leaders’ own sense of job security in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stability is important to enable leaders to plan ahead effectively with certainty.”

“It’s to be welcomed that more flexibility in working practices is becoming the norm at senior leadership level but it’s concerning that the trend to invest in ongoing professional development of leaders is declining.

“It is important that chairs and boards return to investment in leadership development to ensure that leaders’ skills and knowledge keep pace with the demands of the role and that they are equipped to deal with the constant challenges that face the sector. Development is not a ‘nice to have’ if leaders are to continue to make the biggest possible difference.”

ACEVO's survey also found the equality pay gap has widened among charity leaders and the sector is struggling to reverse a lack of diversity among CEOs.

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