Voluntary sector salaries – the annual Celre survey

The voluntary sector is no longer the preserve of well-meaning middle-aged ladies. It is increasingly professional, and this is reflected in the salaries on offer.

Celre’s voluntary sector salary survey found that the average salary for a voluntary sector chief executive in 2009 was £80,188, with an average increase of 3.5% and bonus of £6,051. But chief executives in the sector still earn less than a fifth (18.9%) of the average basic survey paid to chief executives in the economy as a whole, according to Celre’s national management survey.

The basics

Basic salaries, plus location allowance, for departmental managers are 77.7% of the equivalent salary in the wider economy. Further down the corporate ladder, it’s a different story, with care staff and administrators earning an average of £15,544 with a bonus of £356 – although they had the same level of increase as chief executives. The lowest increase was 1.8%, to trainee non-professional staff, or those in office services, whose basic average salary was £13,740.

Employees in the south east received the biggest increase (3.2%) in basic salaries, although those in inner London received slightly less (2.7%). The average for the whole of the UK was 2.8%.

While most respondents (69.3%) reported no change to their salary structure in 2009, 47.9% of those who did saw the introduction of broader salary bands, 21.7% moved to broader scales and 4.3% to a system based around London or regional allowances. 

Staff turnover

On labour turnover – in 2009, resignation was the most popular reason (7.6%) for leaving a voluntary sector job, with the second most popular, redundancy, at 2.2%. Resignation rates fell from 9.2% in 2008, while redundancy rose from 1.8%.

Mark Crail, XpertHR head of benchmarking and data services, says: “This has been a patchy recession. We usually see a fall in resignations, but there’s been little sign of that this year. Maybe that’s because, in this sector, there’s no shortage of jobs to go to.” Almost one in five (19.6%) voluntary sector organisations link cost-of-living increases to the annual local government National Joint Council pay award for services employees, with 43.9% using retail price index inflation to help set their increase.

Location, location, location

Turnover by location showed that inner London-based staff are most likely to move; greater London workers least likely. Resignation was the main reason for moving, regardless of region, while redundancies were least likely in outer London.

Asked about recruitment problems, only 4.4% had problems recruiting part-time staff, 21.7% experienced difficulties recruiting managers, and 12.1% directors. Reasons given included salary levels (41.7%) and competition from other organisations (20.8%), but both were outstripped by a lack of suitably skilled applicants (93.8%).

Retention problems varied according to seniority. The hardest to retain (22.6%) were those directly below management, including senior specialists and admin supervisors. The main cause of retention problems was lack of career progression (50%). Asked whether they expected staff numbers to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next 12 months, 61.1% expected the number of full-time staff to remain constant. More than 70.% expected part-time staff numbers to be unchanged, and 57.1% temporary staff.

Crail adds: “Our results show that the resignation hasn’t really hit the voluntary sector yet. The real crunch is yet to come. We will see it in next year’s report, with lower resignation rates and salary increases.”

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