Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Charity jobs & salaries: Does size matter?

15 June, 2009 - 13:33 -- John Burton

Third Sector Magazine is important reading for anyone working in charities and I read it every week. I wonder how many potential donors to charities bother to check out Third Sector's charity jobs pages or other websites advertising jobs in the charity sector? When I look there seems to be a clear dichotomy between the smaller charities (such as the World Land Trust) and the large ones -- even in the conservation field, and nowhere is the difference more marked than in the salaries offered.

My personal view is that working for a wildlife conservation charity should provide sufficient job satisfaction that salary is not the over-riding deciding factor. In my ideal world there would be a three tier salary structure of up to about £70,000 maximum, a middle Management of £30,000- £50,000 and a bottom level of about £16,000- £25,000. The WLT is still a long way off achieving that (with all salaries below that sort of target), but quite a lot of charities appear to be well over that level.

It is often argued that charities should be more business like. But having watched the implosion of banking I disagree. On the contrary, business could learn a lot from charities. The problem is that charities are learning from business. And what they have learned is that the bigger you get, the bigger the salaries top executives can expect, so there is an inherent pressure on CEOs to grow the organisation, regardless of how this affects its effectiveness. I have concluded that while small is beautiful, it can be too small to be cost effective, but unlimited growth is not the answer. Getting the right balance is the tricky bit.

Queen's Honours list excludes conservationists?

I had a very quick scan through the Queen's Birthday Honours list, and it seemed that no one from conservation of the natural environment was recognised. Now this can have two possible explanations:

  1. Those that make the recommendations do not rate the natural environment as a cause worth recognising, or
  2. those that work in that field do not want recognition.

The latter seems unlikely; even if some are republicans, or have other personal reasons against the honours system, not all are going to be of that persuasion. So the first reason seems the most likely -- that despite everything in the press and on TV, those working to combat global warming and save biodiversity do not warrant recognition. Or has anyone spotted some conservationists on the list?


Submitted by stevewexler on

I'm not sure it's realistic to set "ideal" bands for salaries like this. If no Chief Executive were ever to earn more than 70K, why or how would they ever move to larger and larger organisations.

The same applies for other senior staff… For example I just saw a senior Director for a large charity at 70K on

Submitted by John Burton on

I would presume that people would move up because they were motivated by the job, not simply money. It is a sad fact that the modern world seems to only measure success in terms of financial reward. Just as Efficiency always seems to be measured by profits. However, it is not always efficient (in terms of social justice and other factors) to maximise profit. And I believe the same applies to salaries. Paying the most, does not always attract the best — just the greediest.

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