Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Overpaid Charity CEOs - top 20 of highest paid employees

I recently discovered the list below of the charities with the highest paid staff in the country and it makes for very distressing reading. As a matter of policy, the Ten-Percent Foundation will not be donating to any charity in future that pays a CEO or equivalent more than £75,000, which we believe is a reasonable wage to be paying a decent manager or director involved in a non-profitable and charitable venture.

Consumers’ Association £300k-£310k
Marie Stopes International £260k-£270k
Save the Children International £261,309
Cancer Research UK £210k-£220k
British Red Cross Society £180k-£190k
Age UK £180k-£190k
Shaw Trust £180k-£190k
National Trust £170k-£180k
Royal Mencap Society £170k-£180k
Crime Reduction Initiatives £170k-£180k
Alternative Futures Group £170k-£180k
British Heart Foundation £173,300
Leonard Cheshire Disability £160k-£170k
Macmillan Cancer Support £160k-£170k
Marie Curie Cancer Care £160k-£170k
NSPCC £160k-£170k
Addaction £160k-£170k
Turning Point £165,000
Save the Children £162,220
Charities Aid Foundation £150k-£160k
Barnardo’s £150k-£160k
People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals £150k-£160k
Sense, The National Deaf blind and Rubella Association £150k-£160k
Royal Horticultural Society £150k-£160k
Zoological Society of London £150k-£160k
 Historic Royal Palaces £151,037
Action for Children £140k-£150k
 Salvation Army £140k-£150k
National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux £140k-£150k
Royal National Lifeboat Institution £130k-£140k
 Royal British Legion £130k-£140k
Royal National Institute of Blind People £130k-£140k
Scope £130k-£140k
National Autistic Society £130k-£140k
St John Ambulance £130k-£140k
Alzheimer’s Society £130k-£140k
United Response £120k-£130k
 Dogs Trust £120k-£130k
Voluntary Service Overseas £120k-£130k
National Schizophrenia Fellowship £120k-£130k
Catch22 £120k-£130k

When did all these charities sell out to the corporate world and the excuse of 'independent salary review experts' determining salaries for their CEOs? How many international accountancy firms have been involved in plucking figures from mid-air to determine how much the RNLI fork out to a paid head when most of the people involved are volunteers?

These days all charities with a certain income must disclose the salary being paid to the highest paid member of staff.

This means that the public can see where part of their donations and spend with a particular charity is going.

In the past 14 years, the Ten-Percent Foundation (the charitable trust receiving the Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment donation - £66,000 to date) has donated to a number of charities including some of those below - The British Red Cross and the CAB, which seem to have been paying out salaries in excess of £140,000.

This is quite horrifying to discover. I cannot believe that in this day and age a charity needs to pay a salary at this kind of level to attract someone 'good' to the role of CEO or to head up a particular part of a charity.

I appreciate entirely that charitable organisations like the National Trust and the Consumers Association which, lets face it, are more like businesses with the public as shareholders in any event, are going to pay their staff reasonable salaries. It is inevitable, although questionable in terms of their aims and mission statements.

However, for Cancer Research to be paying someone £210,000 per year, the British Red Cross £190,000 a year, Save the Children to be paying £261,309, Age Concern (or AgeUK - did someone get a bonus for this change of name?) to be getting £180,000, is quite frankly obscene.

I think that charities ought to be made to print the statement on any of their literature to say that any donations made will pay for staff salaries, with a note of the highest salary being paid. This way the general public can make an informed decision on whether or not to donate to a particular charity.

There is a feeling when reading these figures that the charity sector has turned into a business and that the way to make money in the business is to get a CEO job. You virtually become a shareholder at this kind of level of income, and I think it is utterly disgraceful.

After all, I could turn our business into a charity. We could develop charitable aims, arrange to become a trust with a trading branch and pay all our staff more money than we currently get as employees. We would be a charity, but the whole purpose of the business would still be to support the staff of the business, and this is, I fear, the current status quo with some of these charities. People protecting their own jobs and not appreciating how such salaries could be perceived by the general public.

Lets look at whether or not a CEO actually needs paying these amounts. Taking the Save the Children salary - £261,309. Here is a breakdown kindly provided by the Salary Calculator website (


Gross Income£261,309.00£21,775.75£5,025.17£1,005.03
Pension Deductions£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Childcare Vouchers£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Salary Sacrifice£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Pre-tax deductions£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Taxable Income£261,309.00£21,775.75£5,025.17£1,005.03
National Insurance£8,457.96£704.83£162.65£32.53
Student Loan£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Post-tax deductions£0.00£0.00£0.00£0.00
Take Home£149,134.99£12,427.92£2,867.98£573.60

Why on earth does a CEO of a 'charity' need to be earning £12,427.92 net pay per month? What are they going to do with it? How much does he/she donate to charity?

Update - we undertook research in 2016 when determining how to donate our money and studied a number of charities including Parkinson's UK, Amnesty International and War Child. The article can be found here -

Update - we have launched a campaign to address excessive pay in the charity pay and this includes a petition before Parliament. If we can get 10,000 signatures the government will respond to our suggestion to remove charitable status from charities who pay any staff more than three times the national average wage. 

Sign the petition online here -

For details of the Ten Percent Campaign, which aims to encourage more companies to donate a percentage of their profits and also restrict excessive pay in the charity sector, please click here -

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession.


Anonymous said...

I ve been concerned about this issue for a couple of years but feel that nobody cares.Im very pleased to see this article but disappointed that there seems to have been no comments since December.I have found it very difficult to find a charity for Nepal that doesn't have an overpaid boss.It sickens me to think that these salaries will be paid out of donations that people think are helping the earthquake victims.I would like to see a register of charities that pay bread and butter salaries so that I know who I should donate to.

Jonathan Fagan said...

I've just tweeted the Charities Commission. They don't keep a record of charities paying particular levels of salaries but you can go through each charity and check their accounts as I think they have to declare if they have anyone paid more than a certain amount.

Something for us to consider doing as a service. Thanks for the comment.

Unknown said...

After having a charity collection cold caller knock on my door last night for Marie Curie trying to get me to sign up to a £5 a week direct debit I think it is disgusting that the CEO that sanctioned these dirty tactics is on £180k. They prey on the same vulnerable people they claim to be helping who sign up to these schemes when they can't afford it, like the story of the 92 year old poppy seller recently.

Anonymous said...

Check out who is the ceo!!!!

Anonymous said...

Big charities are no longer charities, they are big business using their charitable status as a tax break. They employ 'chuggers' (charity muggers) to raise donations, not a penny will be given to the 'cause' until enough has been raised to cover their overheads and huge salaries.
Its sickening to think that the donation my friend left in her will might just cover the salary of the parasite at the top, who is literary taking food out of the mouths of children.
Don't support large business charities, take from the rich and support a small local charity- there are plenty of them about- and every penny is recycled into doing good, not spent on expensive houses, cars, holidays and fine wine.

Peter Williams said...

I regret to observe that this is symptomatic of present day Britain where the new elite (i.e. bankers , politicians CEOs etc) are paid many times "ordinary" people's income. The politicians, of course, say "we're all in it together" when cutting payments to the disabled etc - a blatant lie.

Baijoz Ek Aljamarkiz said...

I am so so so happy to read your article!!!
I was beginning to feel like I was the only one to see the king was actually naked!!!!

It is horrifying to see the charity sector being hijacked by sharks who are only interested in filling up their own pockets! I have worked in small charities and have seen similar things going on at smaller levels, but this takes the biscuits! And the Charity Commission (I do realise they have little power but still)just simply does not care! and the public is being fooled into thinking they are helping, some people giving although they hardly have anything to survive on!

The next thing you should look into in the new government con regarding the New Enterprise Allowance, and whose pockets this is filling up!!! I am so angry, when we have old people who cannot heat up their room, and parents that go without so that their kids can eat!! Honestly!

Anonymous said...

This subject has been bothering me for quite some time. Thank you for posting it and all the comment. Now, is there anything that can be done in terms of regulating this 'industry' and changing it to what it should be doing?
The few suggestions to support local charities, etc. are great, but how can this process stop?
It breaks my heart to see the street/abandoned/sick/abused/hungry/traumatised children that need any kind of help, but where do you find a charity that does not pay their bosses hundreds of thousands in salaries, not to mention bonuses/pensions/private schools for their kids, etc.

Anonymous said...

Can you list the charities where the CEO is paid less than £75k pa?

Anonymous said...

This is a very bias and inaccurate study. for example the CEO of Cancer Research UK actually gives back almost TWO THIRDS of his wage to his own charity. I raise money for charities door2door fundraising and I have a very wide understading of how it all works. The Media LOVE to hate charities, charities do an amazing job PLEASE do not slate them.

Anonymous said...

This is just the tip of the iceberg as there is usually a very hefty pension package included in the mix. Add to that in some cases, expenses, I believe the CEO of the Lifeboat Assoc. has a car and driver at his disposal - I am sure I read that somewhere. As far as Cancer Research is concerned, I have been contributing through the years only to find out that more are dying from the disease. Add to this a £650 million pound building in London with 15 scientists coming from all over the world - guess who will be paying the £100 million yearly it is going to cost to keep it going. Charities have become BIG BUSINESS.

Unknown said...

Is there any information about charities with lower paid CEOs or even volunteer CEOs?

Steve H said...

At this time of year, I would like to think that most reasonable persons thoughts would dwell for a short while on those who are less fortunate or ill.
Yet those thoughts sour a little when you realise that your kind deed of donating to a charity is greatly reduced when the boss of said charity takes a large slice as a wage.
Charity adverts on TV used to ask for as little as £1, now that figure has climbed to at least £3, I can only assume that is because nowadays, to raise £1 for charity, they must collect an extra £2 to cover the costs and wages.
It is also wrong that the boss of Great Ormond Street who resigned to avoid an enquiry, should be allowed to waltz straight into another high paid job and I hope the publics perception of that womans morals leads to her eventual downfall.
Far better you give your charitable donation directly to someone in need.

HDIVER said...

"Anonymous said...

This is a very bias and inaccurate study. for example the CEO of Cancer Research UK actually gives back almost TWO THIRDS of his wage to his own charity. I raise money for charities door2door fundraising and I have a very wide understading of how it all works. The Media LOVE to hate charities, charities do an amazing job PLEASE do not slate them."

Do they take this high salary for the pleasure of paying the tax to the government. It would be better if they took less salary and then the company would not have to pay HMRC a huge chunk of tax and NI on their behalf. If this were truly the case, I am sure one would be able to find evidence of it on the internet. I could not. Of course, the commenter is anonymous!

Unknown said...

This article has opened my eyes to charity giving. I was contemplating fundraising for one local charity but have been put off after seeing how much goes to the CEO, outrageous. !!!

Anonymous said...

I'm totally shocked about the pittance these charities receive from public donations, fat cats seem to be everywhere,
People donate to these charities expecting their donation to be used for the purpose of helping people through their illnesses, not to feed the fat cat executives, I googled this tonight because I had a DISCUSSION with my husband re him saying he no longer donates because of the high wage of CEO, I JUST CANT BELIEVE THEY CAN RIP PUBLIC OFF LIKE THIS

Mazza said...

Totally shocked what I've just read, CEOs paid too highly from hard working kind people thinking their money goes to Charity, well I'm one that say charity begins at home, I've just sponsored my sister after I paid money in, I decided to check this out, not very happy so little goes to where we thought

badaz said...

As a publican, I would hold regular money raising events as well have 'a bottle on the bar'. Rather than send a cheque to a 'Charity' knowing full well that not all of the money would go to help the 'needy', I would go to the local cottage hospital and ask them what they needed. Then I would go to a supplier, collect the item and deliver it directly to the hospital. All this done with the willing voluntary help of the same customers who had 'given' the money. Often for using bad language or losing a bar game or whatever. Thank you residents of Halstead Essex.

Anonymous said...

I think you are wonderful to have researched the greed of charity bosses. For years I have donated to various charities whose bosses earn obscene amounts of money. I also volunteer for a national charity which does great work, but I have nothing but contempt for my ultimate boss. I long to ask him how he can justify such a ridiculous salary. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article like others it really offends me that so much has to be donated before money goes to the needy.
Trying to get more information to try and persuade someone more clever than myself to take this to parlament.

Anonymous said...

I was sad to read at this time of the year that of the £48m raised by the poppy collection, £37m goes to pay off staff at the Royal British Legion with the top man getting £160k. How much of the small amount left reaches servicemen and families thereof should be made public too.

Danny Cleese said...

Well done, it is about time more people realised that a lot of charities are morally corrupt. I stopped giving to some charities a few years ago, after finding out the salaries of their CEOs and upper management. I personally think that £75k is still too much, £50k would be better. Yes, most of us would love to earn £50k a year, wouldn't we. I would like to see legislation brought in to force all charities to list their salary structure and a legal maximum for individual pay. Lots of charities are set up as a business with charitable activities coming second, or third, or in some cases last.

A thought: Who gives the most. The multi-millionaire with his £100k donations (and possibly a knighthood) or the £5 given by a poor widow. I know who I think.........

TheKLF99 said...

Very surprised that two charities I support are on this list - Sense (to think they initially started in a small venue near Wakefield) and the National Autistic Society (I'm Autistic myself). But a few surprises ones that aren't on the list - I wonder what BBC CiN and the Scout Association pay their CEOs?

TheKLF99 said...

I can possibly see that in some ways as I volunteered with a charity and they used to pay travel expenses. I refused numerous times travel expenses as I told them please put the money back into the charity instead. They told me though that I couldn't refuse travel expenses because they were already allocated and until I claimed it they couldn't put the money back in. It did seem a bit silly but that was just the way it was.

Brian Hancock said...

I read this piece with interest and alarm; I had no idea these were the levels of salary paid to executives of these well-known (mostly) charities. I came about this site having entered a search for salaries of Regional Charity Executives having read an article about such and executive who allegedly defrauded Age Concern of £750K.
Finally, well done on your decision to place a limit on executive salaries regarding those charities you may decide to support in future.