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Does Pay Matter?

When deciding on a charity to support, should one consider the salary paid to the Chief Executive? The reader of a  national newspaper says that he has stopped supporting two larger charities – because their Chief Executives received more than £200,000 pa, including bonus and pension contribution. Instead, he is now contributing to charities with ‘humbler leaders’.

While I readily agree that his contributions will ‘mean more’ to smaller charities than to their larger brethren, there’s more to it than that. Since the reader does not give the names of the charities involved, I cannot quote exact figures. But I very much expect that a larger proportion of his contributions is going to the bosses of the smaller charities than to the larger ones: with the result that a smaller proportion of  his charitable giving is going to what he might term ‘the cause’.

What most donors want is for their limited contributions to achieve the most impact (and we probably all define that in a different way). A CEO may be paid a relatively large sum for running a large charity with a huge turnover. But is that charity achieving impact, or just idling along. If the latter, perhaps he or she is being paid too much.

A lot of charitable giving finishes up as being what I call ‘money down the drain’ – but I still give! I am thinking of research into so many dread diseases. Some research builds on previous progress. Very occasionally, a big ‘breakthrough’ is made. But an awful lot, although undertaken with the best of intentions, achieves little or nothing.

We all have some value. It is up to the trustees to get it right when setting pay.

And I wonder how the reader views all those smaller charities (with no Chief Exective) which are run by their (unpaid) trustees, perhaps with some administrative help. They, too, very much have their place in thje whole scheme of things.


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