Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Ten charities who weren't exposed by the Telegraph

International development charities found themselves under fire this morning as the Daily Telegraph focused on their top earning staff and deemed it a worthy line of attack. The paper managed to uncover 30 members of staff at 14 aid charities who earned more than £100,000, a jump from 19 over the last three years.

Curiously though, as change.org’s @JohnnyCov pointed out during a robust exchange with the ever-lively former News of the World exec @neilwallis1, the Daily Telegraph oddly only chose to mention the salaries heads of international development charities.

So here’s ten other charities, with page number and link to the relevant report at the end of each entry, the Telegraph could have focused upon:

1 - One member of staff at Eton College – a registered charity – earned, including pension contributions and other benefits, between £230,000 and £239,999 during 2012, just one of the 40 members of staff who were paid over £100,000 in the same year. p23

2 – In 2012, the RNLI had four members of 'receiving emoluments' of more than £100k in 2012. p28

3 – Similarly, no mention of the one member of staff who earned, including benefits, between £160,001 and £170,000 at the NSPCC in 2012, or the other six members of staff who got over £100,000. p38

4 – Barnardo’s top remuneration package was someone recceving between £150,000 to £159,000 in 2012. Two others were on more than £100,000. p32

5 – The RSPB has one member of staff who received a total of more than £100,000 in 2012. p31

6 – The RSPCA had one member of staff whose package was between £150,000 and £159,000 in 2012, along with another three who received more than £100,000. p30

7 – The Donkey Sanctuary also has one member of staff who received a total between £100,000 and £110,000 in 2012. p46

8 – In 2013, Cancer Research, excluding benefits and pensions, has one person earning between £220,000 and £230,000, another getting more than £210,000 with a further 33 earning more than £100,000. p32

9 – Meanwhile, the British Heart Foundation had one member of staff receiving emoluments of between £170,000 and £180,000 with another six with six figure packages. p41

10 – The National Trust, in 2012, including redundancy payouts, paid one member of staff between £170,000 and £179,000, and a further 20 with packages of over £100,000. p63

All these figures can be found in the respective charity's annual report. I do not question the worth or justification for any of these salaries; indeed I have even supported some of them. They clearly all do valuable work in their respective fields. I am merely pointing out how the Daily Telegraph specifically highlighted international development charities, with no mention of their international value or work, neatly tacking into their on going theme of questioning Britain’s aid budget.

And while I haven’t checked all the charities in my list above but I imagine most, if not all, benefit from indirect government and EU money, through grants and lottery funding.

The common theme which linked the charities selected by the Telegraph was the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the umbrella organisation of international aid charities which collectively appeal at times of global catastrophe. In recent years, they have held mass fundraising efforts for the Boxing Day Tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake, the wretched suffering in Haiti, East Africa and most recently Syria. In the last five years, 96 per cent of DEC appeal funds have gone to member charities and the organisation pledges at least ’50 per cent of appeal funds’ is spent on supplies and materials, and says the figure is ‘typically more than 60 per cent’. It adds:

‘The remainder pays for aid support, including employing staff who may organise food distributions in Pakistan or run medical programmes to prevent children dying of cholera in Haiti. Support costs can also include transport and monitoring the effectiveness of aid programmes.’

All of the above are vital tasks in times of crisis. And inevitably, in emergencies such as those mentioned, the government donates money to DEC appeals; I don't know whether Priti Patel, the Conservative MP who seems to be behind the story, would like the British government to simply turn a blind eye to intense suffering in Syria, Pakistan or Haiti.

Ms Patel ‘helped compile’ the figures for the Daily Telegraph (ie, read publicly available annual reports). She told the newspaper:

‘Hard-pressed taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent and will be shocked to see so many highly paid executives in charities that are dependent on public funds.
‘This money should be focused on delivering front-line services rather than lining the pockets of unaccountable charity executives.’

It is an outrageous statement of ignorance from an MP who apparently belongs to a party which boasts of its belief in the free market. The irony of allowing her not wanting her beloved free market to set the rate for chief executives of organisations which deal with the flow of hundreds of millions of pounds some with thousands of employees, seems to escape her. Instead she appears to want an artificial intervention; perhaps charity bosses should wear hair shirts too.

And the nasty insinuation that these chief executives are somehow secretly lining their own pockets when their financial details are published in annual reports and far more accessible than the accounts of any MP, is unwanted and dispicable; an ignorant smear by a grasping politician hoping for some attention. A modicum of research would show her there are few sectors more transparent than the the third sector.


  1. Well these charity bosses are lining their pockets -thought not secretly. If they were working for the charity they would only take something like the national average wage to live on they are working for themselves like a business and they take more money than most of those who donate earn.

  2. They all believe charity begins at their home.

  3. That's actually quite interesting because RSPB pay really really awful salaries to the normal staff like press officers and public affairs staff compared to other charities.

  4. The point is that senior managers are paid to attract well-connected & resourceful people who can attract bigger donations not from individuals but from corporates/philanthropists/governments... They will say it's an investment.


The comments expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the blog.