Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Transparency

14 November, 2011 - 00:00 -- John Burton

According to Third Sector (the weekly newsletter of the Charity world) the CEO of UNICEF ‘receives a salary of $1,299,000 per year ($100,000 per month) plus all expenses, including a Rolls Royce.” This is the sort of thing that brings the Charity sector into disrepute. 

I suppose technically UNICEF is not a charity, but a UN agency, but nonetheless, since it frequently solicits donations from the public at large, it can, to all intents and purposes, be considered a charity, and indeed is registered as such in the UK, where it raised £81 million in 2010. The 200 staff were paid £8 million; an average of over £40,000 a year each, with one person earning between £90,000-£100,000 and three earning between £60,000-£70,000. Not particularly excessive, at least in comparison with the International CEO.

Third Sector raised the issue because in the US it is apparently becoming practice to point out these issues as a form of ‘knocking copy’ by charities, and asks if it could happen in the UK. My view is that to a certain extent it might be a good thing.  However, charity accounts are notoriously difficult for the public to interpret, so considerable care is needed. But more important than charities complaining about other charities, is educating the donating public, so that they are aware of the questions they need to ask before donating.  For that reason I have for a long time been compiling such a page, and would welcome further suggestions or corrections.

I believe that transparency is the most important issue, and that the public should be prepared to ask questions. Charities should be responsive to all donors, whether they are giving £5 a month or leaving a legacy of £100,000 or more.

Another issue in the charity news is related, but completely different. Research has shown that those earning less than £32,000 a year give, on average, more than 1% of their income to charity, whereas those earning more than £52,000 a year give, on average less than 0.8% of their income. Now this may be a case of distorted statistics, because of course higher earners also pay more in tax, and when this is taken into account the small (ca. 0.2% difference may be ironed out. But again thoughts and comments (as well as donations) welcome.

Find out more about the WLT and how it aims to be transparent in our "about" section »

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