Charities that pay their top executives in excess of £100,000 a year risk bringing the sector into disrepute, according to the Charity Commission.
Chairman William Shawcross issued the warning following Daily Telegraph revelations that at least 30 highly-placed charity executives, at such large organisations as the National Trust, Oxfam, Save The Children, Christian Aid, NSPCC, RSPCA, Sheler, Barnardos, WWF-UK and the RSPB enjoyed these high salaries, funded by donors, tax-payers and tax concessions. He made the point that “In these difficult times, when many charities are experiencing shortfalls, trustees should consider whether very high salaries are really appropriate and fair to both the donors and the taxpayers who fund charities”.
The revelations have also prompted the 10,000-member National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Charity Commission to work together on the drawing up of the first-ever code of conduct for guidance on salaries in the charity sector, expected to be available to charity trustees by next spring.
There is a view that donors wanting the best use of their hard-earned money should demand that all charities declare how many pennies actually go to the needy for every pound donated, and use this as a criteria for donating, something the Charity Commission should perhaps be enthusiastically supporting, in these difficult times. There is also a view that there is something uncomfortable about the culture of the highly-paid being so because of the generosity of thousands of volunteers doing what they are not prepared to, that is work for nothing.
Meanwhile the press are giving the chairman of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) Sir Stephen Bubb, an enthusiastic supporter of high salaries and other benefits in the charity sector, a hard time over embarrassing revelations that donors to his organisation funded half the cost of his 60th birthday party, held last November at the Palace of Westminster.
Isn’t that called setting an example?