Salary growth in charity finance sector halves since 2018

Growth in average salaries for finance professionals within the UK charity sector dipped from 6 per cent in 2018 to 3.24 per cent in 2019.
At the same time, the rise in average earnings for women was almost double that for men, increasing by 4.08 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively, according to the 2019 Charity Finance Salary & Benefits Survey Report published by Robertson Bell today.

The survey conducted by Robertson Bell, a leading provider of finance talent for the charity and wider not for profit sectors, analysed the results from over 1,000 respondents across the charity finance sector.

It found that while average salaries have continued to rise year on year, albeit at a slower pace than previously, those in senior roles saw the greatest increase over the last 12 months.

Finance professionals working for charities with an annual turnover of less than £10 million, saw the average salary for a permanent senior manager rise to £67,000 per annum compared to £44,000 for a mid-management position, and £31,000 for non-management postholders.

For those operating within mid-size charities, whose annual turnovers are between £10 million and £60 million, the difference in earnings between a senior executive and a non-management colleague is £89,000 for the former and £32,000 for the latter.

Within the UK’s largest charities that have a turnover exceeding the £60 million mark, the pay gap between senior executive and non-management professionals is at its sharpest.

A director, for instance can expect to earn on average £128,000 per annum, compared to a senior (£65,000), middle-management (£54,000) and non-managerial (£29,000) colleague within the same organisation.

Stuart Bell, CEO of Robertson Bell, commented on the last 12 months: “Despite the political and economic uncertainty that dominated 2019, employer hiring intentions remained strong within the charity and wider not for profit sector as a whole.

“One of the key findings of this survey is that 7 out of 10 [68 per cent] charity finance professionals admit to being open to new career opportunities. There are two things at play here.

“First is that competition for talent within the sector is higher than ever before, which is creating a greater array of career opportunities for people. And second, demand for talent – especially at senior and executive level – remains high but the availability of that talent is low, which in turn is pushing salaries upwards.

“Against this backdrop, it follows that finance professionals at all stages of their career recognise that the shortage of available skills means that employers will increase average earnings in a bid to attract the talent they need to fill the roles they have; hence, why so many people are open to a new move.”

Professional qualifications

The data highlighted the importance of professional qualifications and their relation to earnings. Accordingly, middle management post holders possessing a recognised accountancy qualification such as CIMA, CIPFA, ACCA or ACA, earn on average 15 per cent more. For their senior and executive colleagues, this rises to almost 20 per cent.

Regional variances

Location too has an influence on salary levels. London continues to offer higher renumeration than elsewhere in the country, with senior roles such as Finance Directors and Head of Management Accounts seeing an average salary increase of 9 per cent over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, the prospects for interim finance professionals remain highest in the capital.

Flexible working and gender

“There has been an interesting shift when it comes to flexible working within the sector too,” adds Stuart Bell. “Our data shows a widening in the salary gap between mid- and senior- level candidates who work both from home and the office (higher), and those that are purely office or purely home based (lower).

“This suggests that an increasing number of employers within the sector are embracing and even encouraging greater flexible working, and this may be playing a part in the rise in average earnings among women.

“Our analysis shows that women’s average earnings across the charity finance function have spiked by 4.08 per cent since 2018, whilst salaries for men rose by 2.4 per cent.”

Sector migration

The survey also found that the charity sector has seen an influx of senior finance professionals moving from commercial sector, with the finance function increasingly being organised along the same lines as those more commonly associated with a corporate entity both in terms of approach and attitude.

Matt Millar, Director at Robertson Bell, commented: “There has been a general trend of moving towards a ‘business partnering mentality’ across the finance function within charities.

“This, I believe, has been a catalyst for the significant increase in senior finance professionals opting to make the switch from commercial to not for profit employment over the last 12 months. I expect this will continue throughout 2020 and for the foreseeable future.”

“The bottom line is that employers need to attract and retain good people, and it is getting harder to do so. As such, salaries will rise in accordance with that demand and certain roles such as Financial Accountants and Financial Controllers, the increase is likely to be faster than for other roles within the charity finance remit.”