Gender pay gap in large charities: findings from the latest data

Since 2018, employers in the UK with more than 250 employees are required to report data on the gender pay gap in their organisations. This data is published by government and available to download on their website. Although it does not group organisations by sector, charities can be identified by matching their company number against records of the Charity Commission. Based on the latest dataset provided by the freelance data scientist David Kane, this blog summarises the key findings on the gender pay gap in large charities.

How many charities provide gender pay gap data?

In total, 10,450 organisations submitted data for 2018/19[1], of which 571 were identified as charities, three more organisations than in the previous year. There were 22 charities (4%) that had less than 250 employees and voluntarily published gender pay gap data. This is the same proportion as in the public and the private sector.

Charities have a lower gender pay gap compared to other sectors

Employers have to report both mean and median difference in hourly wages. Throughout this blog, we report on median figures as the average gender pay gap because it is typically more representative (see notes below for more explanation). On average, women working in charities earn 7% less than men working in charities. This includes institutions such as independent schools and universities with charitable status, which do influence these headline figures – more on that below. The difference is much smaller than in both the private (12%) and the public (11%) sector, which favour men more.

Two-thirds of charities pay men more, a lower proportion than in other sectors

About two-thirds (64%) of all charities in the data reported that they pay men more than women. This is a lower proportion than in the private (78%) and the public (84%) sector. At the same time, there is a higher proportion of charities that pay women more than men (23%) or reported equal pay (12%). These figures are fairly similar for all charities with 250+ employees regardless of their size, while in the public sector and the private sector the larger organisations tend to favour men slightly more. However, figures have to be interpreted carefully for charities due to small numbers in some of the employer size bands.

More than half of charities have a gender pay gap below 3.5%

Although a majority of charities (64%) pay men more, over half of charities have a gender pay gap below 3.5% which means that they are either paying women more, have equal pay or pay men up to 3.5% more than women.

Charities have the highest proportion of women across all pay quartiles

Compared to other sectors, charities have a much higher representation of women across all pay quartiles. Women make up 71% of their workforce in the lowest pay quartile and 63% in the top pay quartile. While the proportion of women in charities goes down for the highest paid jobs, this trend is less marked than in organisations in the public and the private sectors. In the private sector, women make up only 36% of the highest paid jobs.

General charities have a lower gender pay gap than non-general charities

Our analysis has shown that the gender pay gap in charities is much lower while women are more represented in the top pay quartiles. However, there is even more difference between different types of charities. At NCVO, we use the ‘general charities’ definition for much of our research. This definition covers organisations that meet a number of criteria, and excludes organisations like independent schools, government-controlled bodies or housing associations. It gets us closer to what most people think of when they think of charities.

Further analysis shows that general charities are less likely to pay men more, only about half of all organisations do so. They have an average gender pay gap of 2%, considerably lower than for non-general charities (16%), and a much higher proportion of women in the top pay quartile. Many of the charities with larger pay gaps in favour of men are actually schools, colleges or universities.

What next?

NCVO believes in equality of opportunity for all. Although NCVO employs fewer than 250 staff and is therefore not required to publish gender pay gap information, we have chosen to and encourage other organisations in the sector to do so as well.


How the gender pay gap is reported

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women. Organisations have to provide this figure as a mean and a median difference. The mean is calculated when you add up the wages of all employees and divide the figure by the number of employees. The median is the figure that falls in the middle of a range when everyone’s wages are lined up from smallest to largest. The median is a typically a more representative figure as the mean can be skewed by a handful of highly paid employees, and is therefore used throughout this blog.


  • Data is sourced from freelance data scientist David Kane and based on the government Gender Pay Gap service
  • Charity numbers are based on data from findthatcharity
  • Organisation type is determined by matching based on company numbers. This matching could be wrong in individual cases:
    • Charities sometimes have incorrect/missing company numbers
    • Company numbers can have odd formatting
    • Public sector organisations are assumed based on those organisations without a company number which might be incorrect
  • General charities classifications are based on the general charities definition used in the UK Civil Society Almanac
  • The data may be incomplete and some organisations still missing


[1] Data was downloaded on 8 April 2019


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Avatar photo Lisa Hornung is a data and research manager in the research team at NCVO. She leads on the data collection, analysis and communication of the UK Civil Society Almanac. More widely, she helps to ensure that NCVO remains at the forefront of voluntary sector data collection and analysis.

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