Charity Salary & Motivation Benchmarking Survey 2024

The 2024 Charity Sector Salary and Motivation Benchmarking Survey - wage increases, what we do best and less well, and promoting wellbeing

Charity Salary & Motivation Benchmarking Survey 2024

The annual Charity Salary and Motivation Benchmarking Survey for the staff and volunteers of UK non profits was carried out in April 2024.  We invited them to make their voices heard and this is what they told us.

It is the work with people that I find most motivating and getting to help people without structures that stop me

Charity Benchmarking 2024 - Key Points

Brilliant motivating people passionate about the cause

  • Our effectiveness in leading and managing people and the wellbeing of our people have both deteriorated, since late 2022.
    • We are seeing this in numerous other areas and it is almost certainly Cost of Living Crisis driven.
  • More than half of charities (55%) awarded salary increases of 3% to 5%.
    • 17% have not awarded any salary increase.
  • The gap between charity sector salary and those of other sectors continues to widen.
  • The outstanding metric was our passion for the charity sector and our work.
    • Then our willingness to tackle bullying/discrimination, and valuing and each other.
  • The 4 areas we do less well in were development and appraisal, job security, continuing to work in the sector and stress.
  • In terms of promoting wellbeing, what people want most is to be genuinely listened to.
    • Our weakest areas were having enough people with the necessary skills and experience and having feedback processes to be confident the staff/volunteer team were happy.
    • The highest rated areas were having a volunteer policy that ensured volunteers were supported and a willingness to deal with any discrimination/sexual harassment.

The data used in this report is a blend of our Charity Data Store Data and external survey data.  Whilst not exactly comparable, the results of each supported the other, with no significant differences noted.

No pay increase is possible - we do not have that kind of financial security

Charity Salary Benchmarking

A small and informal survey of 22 sector HR professionals in Nov 22 found that most would or had made an inflation pay rise of between 2.3% and 6%; some charities had made no pay increase at all.

In 2024, we asked respondents about salary increases.  A total of 322 responded to this salary question, but many were not sure, so total number who provided results was 172.  Of these 73 (55%) awarded pays rises of 3%, 4% or 5%. Thirty respondents (17%) awarded no pay increase.  A small number of charities (7) awarded pay rises of circa 10% but from the comments for some at least, this seems to be due to an obligation to increase staff to either the minimum wage or London Living Wage.

We legally had to increase min wage employees by 9.8%

Based on comments, some charities chose to give higher salary increases to lower paid staff and smaller ones to senior staff.

A very small number offered other benefits, such as extra holiday, reduced hours or a voucher.  Some mentioned that there had not been a pay rise for several years. It’s not possible to be certain but it seems likely that lower paid staff have had overall higher salary increases than management, partly due to increases to meet the minimum wage.

No pay awards since 2022, trustees are considering a pay rise for 2024.

Salary Benchmarking - Other Sectors

Although now dated, Pro Bono Economics found that the hourly wage gap between those working in the charity sector and the rest of the economy was 7.0% and that the pay gap widens as people progress through their careers, peaking at 9.4% for those aged 46 to 50.

For the period Dec 23 to Feb 24, annual average regular earnings growth for the public sector remained relatively strong at 6.1%; for the private sector this was 6.0%.  Source ONS.

The charity sector salary gap with the public and private sectors has grown even wider.  It seems likely that the salary gap for older/more senior staff, identified by PBE, has widened even more.

Most of the ones I have scored lowest are due to pay, recognition and reward and job security. These are more about the wider public and PVI sector and not about the internal workings of my particular charity

Charity Excellence Salary Data

The Charity Excellence Pay and Benefits model (8 metrics) tracks how well charities are managing the pay and benefits process, not the quantum of any salary increases per se.  Moreover, whilst that has dropped quite a bit,  only recently slightly recovered and there’s more we could do, because it’s a key issue – the actual ratings remain very good.  There are no obvious overall weaknesses in the way charities manage their pay and benefits.


We know we have a long way to go to be able to raise staff pay and conditions but we are not confident this can be funded realistically.

Charity Benchmarking - What Charities Do Well

Brilliant motivating people passionate about the cause

The outstanding metric was being passionate about the sector and our work, which took the top 3 highest rated questions, with 60% people rating it 10/10.   The next highest was our willingness to tackle bullying and discrimination, and valuing and respecting each other.

Using my skills and knowledge to make a positive, tangible difference to peoples lives and outcomes. And the people who work in the charity sector - they are hugely motivating and inspirational - so much passion and drive and very smart - you feel anything is possible
2024 2023
Questions - Highest Rated Rated 10/10 Rated 6 to 10/10 Rated 10/10
I'm passionate about our charitable cause 62% 96% 65%
I am proud of my organisation and the charitable work we do 62% 95% 65%
Working in an organisation that is socially responsible is important to me 53% 95% 58%
Management ensure no one is discriminated against: women, minorities or others 52% 90% 48%
The management team genuinely value all members of staff, including those in junior and lower paid roles 47% 90% 47%
Even the most junior team members are treated with courtesy and respect 47% 89% 43%
I have a good working relationship with my manager 47% 88% 49%
I expect to still be working for my charity more than a year from now 43% 73% 42%
If there ever was bullying or other abuse, I'm confident it would be dealt with quickly and properly 42% 88% 44%
The work I do is valued by my work colleagues and beneficiaries 40% 89% 41%

Sense of purpose, and doing good, in a small part to make the world a better place for everyone.

Charity Benchmarking - What Charities Do Less Well

This year, again there were 4 main issues.  Salary was the lowest rated of all 54 questions, and salary related questions, 4 of the 10 lowest rated.   The next lowest rated area was development and appraisal, followed by job security.  Continuing to work in the sector was the next lowest but note that it also appears in the highest rated table above. Work stress was also a concern.

Job security, funding and salaries are the hardest bit about working in the charity sector, and does sometimes make it hard to justify not looking for something more sustainable in a different sector

2024 2023
Lowest Rated Questions Rated 1/10 Rated 1 to 5/10 Rated 1/10
My salary increases have kept pace with inflation and wages growth in other organisations. 18% 58% 28%
I have a personal development plan, which my line manager supports me in undertaking. 17% 50% 19%
Staff are appraised annually against measurable, achievable personal objectives. 10% 36% 12%
Although charity staff may be paid less than those in other sectors, this isn't a problem for me 9% 395 12%
Given the current conditions in the charity sector, I am confident my job is secure. 9% 33% 10%
My salary is reasonable compared to others in similar roles. 9% 36% 11%
I am given regular constructive feedback on my performance. 8% 38% 11%
I expect to still be working for my charity more than a year from now 8% 27% 9%
I see working for my charity as a long-term career choice. 8% 25% 10%
The remuneration and benefits are those that I value. 7% 42% 5%
I rarely feel stressed or depressed about work. 5% 35% 3%

We have no annual appraisal or training plan inplace

Benchmarking Survey - the Areas Rated Lowest

I don't feel well paid or that my job is secure. Our mortgage will be up for renewal soon, and I'm currently earning less than I was when we first got it. It's stressful.

Respondents were asked to provide detail on those areas they had rated the lowest.  There were a wide range of comments with low salary, lack of job security due to funding challenges and appraisal/development themes, but also some comments about poor behaviours, particularly relating to senior staff and trustees.

 Very small organisation. Lack of career development opportunities. Feel we end up firefighting. Lack of trustees experience on board. Uncertainty regarding the future.

Benchmarking Survey - What is Most Motivating About the Charity Sector

I have to be working for something more than generating income for someome else. I need to social purpose.

People were asked what is it about the charity sector that you find most motivating and important to you? A range of issues were raised, including being able to see the impact of your work in a way you cannot in a large organisation but, as in 2023, the overwhelming response was making a difference and helping others.

Values over profit. Beings over profit. We tend to be more agile than public sector and less bureaucratic and autocratic. More space for people to have agency over their roles and respond creatively to challenges.

How to Promote Charity Sector Wellbeing

The question asked was - What do you think are the most important things that charities should do to support and promote the wellbeing of their people?  A whole range of ways were raised including recognition, flexibility, being supported and treated fairly, work/life balance. Various aspects of pay and benefits but by far the most common was to listen.  In the survey results 18% rated this less positively (scored 1 to 5).

Listen - people have great ideas but need ways of getting that to the people who can make an impact.

The graph below is Charity Excellence longitudinal data for its wellbeing model (15 metrics) from June 2020 to Apr 2024.  The wellbeing areas rated lowest by charities were having enough people with the necessary skills and experience and having feedback processes to enable managers to be confident the staff/volunteer team were happy and feel they are valued and treated fairly.  The highest rated areas were having a volunteer policy that ensured volunteers were managed, supported and recognised for their contribution to our work and a willingness to take any discrimination/sexual harassment complaints seriously and to deal with these well.

Value them, listen to them, do with and not to.

charity-excellence-sector wellbeing-data

Nurture them and listen to theri concerns. Also, empower them to deliver the best that they can.

Charity Wellbeing Benchmarking - Small Charities Are Being Hit Hardest

This is the data for the income bands from £500k pa and above for June 2020 to April 2024.


This is the wellbeing data for charities under £500k pa income, for the same period, including micro charities (under £10k pa).


Charity Sector Data Store - People

Our Charity Sector Data Store track a wider range of People metrics (79) than the survey (54).  Having analysed the 2 completely separate sets of data these appear to support each other.

Of the 79 metrics, only 8 are at amber (charities report they are not doing these well), which is pretty good.  Amongst these are - having a people strategy and objectives, enough people, with the right skills and experience, staff being appraised annually, receiving regular constructive feedback and having a Personal Development Plan plus volunteering recruitment and management.  What we appear to be really good at is safeguarding.

The Cost-of-Living Crisis funding situation has not only impacted our ability to fund reasonable salary increases but (as the graph below shows) our overall effectiveness in managing people.

Interestingly, in the graph above Covid didn’t but in late 2022, as the CoL crisis began to bite, performance fell and has remained down.   The lack of funding will be having an impact, but we think that our inability to meet the increases in demand and knock-on negative impact on those supporting people through the crisis has also done so.

Charity Excellence Benchmarking Surveys 

We carry out annual benchmarking surveys for staff and volunteers each Spring and trustees in the autumn.  This is used to provide consistent data and useful analysis for the sector, and also to validate our Charity Sector Data Store big data for the sector. Our work and data may be used by anyone but Charity Excellence should be appropriately recognised in doing so and it may not be used for commercial purposes.  

Charity Salary and Motivation Benchmarking Survey Details


The survey uses the charity sector Hertzberg 2 factor model designed for the Charity Excellence core system model, comprising 54 questions.  Respondents were also asked to provide qualitative text responses about the areas they’d rated lowest, what’s most motivating about the sector and what they think should be done to better support and promote wellbeing in the sector.  They were also asked to respond to what salary increase, if any, had or was being given this year.

Survey Profile of Respondents

The survey respondents are staff and volunteers of UK nonprofits.

Respondents - Numbers

There were a total of 399 responses (157 in 2023), that roughly reflected the overall sector make-up albeit under represented by charities under £100k pa.

Respondents - Job Role

The vast majority of respondents were charity CEOs and management staff – 78%.

Chair or trustee 14%
CEO or senior management 38%
Management 41%
Volunteer 7%

Non-Profit Size

Respondent breakdown roughly followed the sector profile, albeit under represented by the smallest charities.

Less than £10k 8%
£11k to £100k 18%
£100k - £500k 36%
£501k - £1m 13%
£1m - £3m 14%
More than £3m 11%

Charity Sector Big Data

This report also uses our new Microsoft Power tool which has 9 interactive dashboards, tracking about 150 metrics, that we use to extract data from our Charity Data Store.  The Data Store has data for the 500+ assessment statements in the model, that cover every area of activity and to date holds 0.75 million data points going back to 2018, so includes both crises.


The tool was designed with pro bono support from the OR Society and funded by the GSR Foundation.

More Salary Information

For more information on individual jobs try the Charity Job Salary Report 2024, which is based on over 48,000 paid roles posted on our website last year. It lists average salaries across the sector for different specialisms, levels of role and sizes of charity and shows how these have changed since 2022.

Funding and Free Support and Resources for the Charity Sector

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