How salaries are changing in the voluntary sector

Stephanie Dotto is the content and SEO lead at CharityJob, the largest and most specialised job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.

In an era where we’re more likely to check the news on our phone then to grab a paper from the local newsagents, and much of our social and financial interactions are moving online, traditional fundraising strategies are starting to be less successful than they once were.

With money from the public continuing to be our sector’s largest source of income (and around half of this being in the form of donations and legacies), we must start working harder to ensure our strategies translate to digital spaces.

In other words, individuals who understand how to leverage the digital space and build those lasting donor relationships are becoming increasingly more valuable to employers. But does this mean the demand for strong digital skills is influencing an increase in voluntary sector salaries? The short answer is ‘yes, but very slowly’.

And trends suggest that this will only continue to inch higher as digital becomes more and more essential to any charity’s fundraising strategy.

With the recent launch of the 2019 Charity Sector Salary Report published by CharityJob and Harris Hill, we thought this would be a good time to examine how salaries are adapting across the sector.

Let’s take a closer look.

The digital revolution

Not surprisingly, digital is fundamental to everything we do as charities. From communicating with our donors to organising our volunteers and balancing our books, we’re completely entrenched in software and technology. And though that’s not a bad thing – it surely makes staying organised a whole lot easier – it means that we’re having to learn and develop new skills to ensure we’ve got our finger on the digital pulse.

According to the UK Business and Charity Digital Index, 99% of all small to medium enterprises and charities are now online, meaning the digital capacity of UK charities has almost doubled since 2014. That means voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes need to be investing both money and resources into ensuring they’re active in the digital space.

But surely, charities can’t expect candidates to come already equipped with this digital savvy without nudging salaries up to accommodate the extra level of skill required, can they?

The good news is that charities are aware that more skills means more compensation; you can’t keep paying the same and expecting more from your employees. And though the increase in salaries has been slight, it’s a positive indication that we’re moving in the right direction.

On average, charity IT professionals working at a junior and entry-level could be making anywhere from £1k-£5K more than colleagues in other departments working at the same level because of their specialised digital expertise. Salaries for marketing and digital management jobs are up in larger charities, moving from a band of £32k-£44k in 2018 to £40k-47k in the latest report.

GDPR and data protection

At this point, we’re probably all very familiar with the trials and tribulations of GDPR and data transparency. How could we not be, with so much of what we do centred around data from our donors?

And with the ICO expecting high standards from charities and regulators in terms of compliance, we as charities need to be extra careful about how we handle our data. That’s probably why data management and data analyst roles have been in such great demand.

As seen in this year’s report, the introduction of GDPR has driven an increase in the number of Compliance Managers and Data Protection Officer positions. And as these roles require such a specialised expertise and skillset, they’re likely to make up to 13% more than general IT Managers.

But it’s not just IT departments seeing increased salaries. Data restrictions have made the role of researching and approaching wealthy donors more challenging.
Fundraisers who deal specifically with major donors are seeing slight increases in remuneration, which may be because of the extra level of work now required to do their jobs in adherence with GDPR regulation.

Most often, data roles are filled from outside the sector, but the retention rate isn’t very high. More charities are trying to combat this by providing learning and development opportunities as part of their benefits package.

Flexibility comes standard

We often forget that a job offer is more than just a number. Sure, salary tends to be the most important element, but where a lot of charities lack the funding to provide competitive salaries, they make up for it in benefits and flexible working. It’s one of the biggest draws the sector has when it comes to recruitment.

As little as a year ago, flexible hours and working from home were a bonus, but that’s changing, especially in the voluntary sector. Flexibility has gone from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a fully expected benefit. And charities that don’t offer this as part of the package may find themselves losing talented employees to better offers.

So, what does this all mean for you? The good news is that the market is candidate-driven, and having the right skills and experience puts you in a powerful bargaining position when it comes to negotiating your salary and benefits.

Ready to explore where your salary stands in the grand scheme of things? Download the full 2019 Charity Sector Salary Report to get an overview of what pay is being offered across the sector.


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