Charity sector pay is still as much as 18% below the private sector nationally and up to 16% in London, according to research by Croner, the UK’s largest provider of workplace information, software and services, part of Wolters Kluwer.

The Croner Reward survey of more than 260 charities nationwide, representing over 47,000 staff, finds that despite the continued need for the sector to attract the best leaders, the biggest gap is with chief executives who receive an average of £73,917, or 18% less than their counterparts in the private sector. Other directors receive an average of £65,054, which is 14% less than the private sector.

There is some good news though, as this shortfall has reduced slightly (0.5%) since last year. London-based charities are paying well below the London all-sector average at director and chief executive level by 12% and 16% respectively.

Across the different charities, those in the information/advice sector are paid the most, receiving 4% more than the charity average. Social welfare charities have the lowest pay, averaging almost 8% below the rest of the sector.

The economic climate continues to have an effect on pay: 16% of charities implemented a pay freeze in the last 12 months. For those that did give staff pay rises, these averaged 2.5%. Looking ahead, charities expect current economic problems to have some effect on pay rises with pay review forecasts of 2% in the coming year, which is behind the commercial sector forecast of 2.5%.

Viv Copeland, Head of Reward at Croner, says: “This year’s survey results reflect the continuing difficult times we’re working in. Many charities, like private sector organisations, are reporting redundancies or other plans to reduce staff numbers. Others are trying to hold onto skilled staff by reducing salaries or hours. Employers and job seekers alike will need to be realistic and flexible about their pay and benefits packages.”

Richard Evans, Chief Executive of Charity and Fundraising Appointments, says: “From our day-to-day dealings with charities as our clients and contacts, we know that the greatest anxiety remains the recruitment and retention of fundraisers, fundraising managers and fundraising/development/appeals director. In addition our clients are expecting more from directors of finance/resources both in terms of their contributions at the strategic level and in the range of functions grouped together in this role.”