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.