Charity Pay In Northern Ireland FAQ

Information on salary levels in the community, voluntary and charity sector.

Following the recent story in the Belfast Telegraph about pay levels in the charity sector, we put together this list of frequently asked questions.

What does the term charity actually mean in Northern Ireland?

How are charities in Northern Ireland regulated?

Who can set up a charity?

Who sets the pay for charity CEOs in Northern Ireland?

How many charities are there in Northern Ireland?

What advice and guidance is given to Trustees?

How are charity salaries decided?

What is the average salary in the charity sector?

How can I complain if i am worried about CEO pay?

How can I find out more about where my donation to a particular charity goes?

How can charities justify spending money on staff? Why can’t the work they do be carried out by volunteers?

 

What does the term ‘charity’ actually mean in Northern Ireland? 

In Northern Ireland new charity legislation was passed by the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly in 2008 – The Charities Act (NI) 2008.  The meaning of charity is defined in the Act as being an “institution which is established for charitable purposes only” and “is for the public benefit.”  If an organisation’s activities fall within one or more of the following descriptions of charitable purpose and it is for the benefit of the public, then it must register with the Charity Commission, even if it does not want to. The charitable purposes are:

(a) the prevention or relief of poverty;

(b) the advancement of education;

(c) the advancement of religion;

(d) the advancement of health or the saving of lives;

(e) the advancement of citizenship or community development;

(f) the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;

(g) the advancement of amateur sport;

(h) the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;

(i) the advancement of environmental protection or improvement;

(j) the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;

(k) the advancement of animal welfare;

(l) any other purposes within subsection.

How are charities in Northern Ireland regulated?

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland will determine if an organisation is charitable or not - it established the register of charities in December 2013 and is now calling on all charitable organisations to come forward and register. Previous to the establishment of the register of charities, HMRC granted ‘charitable recognition for tax purposes’ for charitable organisations in Northern Ireland The register of charities and the list of deemed charities (those recognised as charities for tax purposes) is publicly available on the Charity Commission’s website.

Who can set up a charity?

Anyone can set up a charity as long as it meets the above criteria. Each charity is managed by a voluntary (ie they do not get paid) Executive group or Trustee group. They decide on the overall direction and scope of the charity’s work.

Who sets the pay for charity CEO’s in Northern Ireland?

The trustees of a charity set the terms, conditions and pay for the Chief Executive.

How many charities are there in Northern Ireland?

The Charity Commission has almost 7,000 organisations on its ‘deemed’ list. This includes things like universities and churches. At NICVA we work with the organisations considered to be in the ‘voluntary and community sector’ part of the definition of charity. We think there are around 4,836 voluntary and community sector organisations in Northern Ireland. You can find out more about the size, shape and income of the voluntary and community sector here.

What advice and guidance is given to Trustees?

The Charity Commission offers advice and guidance on the rules charity trustees must follow. NICVA offers support to voluntary and community organisations. We are part of the Developing Governance Group which developed and promotes the Code of Good Governance. We strongly recommend this to all our members.

How are charity salaries decided?

Each charity is an independent organisation and trustees are free to decide what is in the charity’s best interests. However NICVA research has shown that most charities benchmark their salaries against the National Joint Council (NJC) salary scales.

What is the average salary in the charity sector?

Working out the average pay is difficult because lots of organisations call the person who heads up their organisation different things e.g. CEO, Director or Manager. However we do carry out a salary survey every three years to help organisations benchmark salaries across a whole range of job roles within the sector. These are our latest findings for Chief Executives and Directors based on the income of the organisation and divided into three different bands of pay – lower quartile (LQ), median (M) and upper quartile (UQ).

Chief Executive

(LQ) Lower Quartile, (M) Median, Upper Quarticle (UQ)
IncomeLQMUQNumber
Less than £100,00023,75030,97836,83810
£100,001 - £250,00025,67333,10842,50016
£250,000 - £500,00033,00037,78242,06123
£500,000 or greater40,27152,57360,71720
All incomes 201231,75440,00045,95769
2010 salaries (in real terms)32,11741,62748,604105
% change from 2010-2012-1.1-3.9-5.4 
     

 Directors

(LQ) Lower Quartile, (M) Median, Upper Quarticle (UQ)
IncomeLQMUQNumber
Less than £100,00018,00028,510-3
£100,001 - £250,00029,25034,36641,0068
£250,000 - £500,00030,00034,50038,49411
£500,000 or greater39,51244,71749,01337
All incomes 201234,00040,58446,00059
2010 salaries (in real terms)30,38441,62743,59689
% change from 2010-2012+11.9-2.5+5.5 

 

How can I complain if I am worried about CEO pay?

Any worries you have about charities in Northern Ireland can be raised with the Charity Commission. You can also contact the Chairperson of any organisation’s Board of Trustees.

How can I find out more about where my donation to a particular charity goes?

The first place to look should be the charities own website, a lot of charities are upfront about how your donation is spent. However all charities have to explain in their annual accounts how the money they receive is spent.

How can charities justify spending money on staff? Why can’t the work they do be carried out by volunteers?

While the vast majority of people involved in our sector are volunteers, including 30,000 volunteer trustees, about 27,773 people choose to work in the voluntary and community sector. That’s 4% of the total Northern Ireland workforce.

Organisations that employ staff do so because they think it is necessary to help them meet their charitable aims and objectives. Some organisations need fulltime staff to manage their affairs properly and ensure responsible governance; some also employ specialist staff like nurses, counsellors, social workers, accountants, personnel managers and have hundreds of employees to effectively deliver their mission.

All of these people have the right training and skills to help people and deserve to get paid for what they do.

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