Salary and Organisational Culture Survey 2020
It’s time to reveal the results of the 2020 CharityComms Salary and Organisational Culture Survey and see what you really think of the sector.
Head of membership, CharityComms
Associate director - membership and education, Charity People
Senior consultant - marketing and communications, Charity People
The past year has undoubtedly brought massive, unforeseen and unavoidable changes to all of our ways of working. The charity sector has faced challenges on a completely different scale, from moving services online almost overnight, to balancing an increased pressure to meet service demand with supporting staff welfare.
Individuals have faced hugely changed circumstances with many taking on additional responsibilities at home as teachers or carers and professionally as they have taken on extra workloads with many employees on furlough for at least a portion of the pandemic. More than 7,200 charities and almost 1,500 community interest companies and societies had made use of the furlough scheme during the month of December 2020.
The sector also came together to form collaborations, support networks and campaigns such as #NeverMoreNeeded – a cross-sector initiative to shine a light on the amazing work charities are doing in the pandemic. The past year has revealed the extent of the vulnerability of many parts of society and just how essential the sector is in supporting them in multiple, vital ways.
So what effect has this all had on those people working in communications in the charity sector? We have included additional questions in this year’s survey to see what additional effects the pandemic has had on salaries and working culture. Not surprisingly, increased working hours and the impact on mental health emerged strongly.
Some positives include a significant increase of just over 10% in the number of charity communicators who feel that their role is more valued (61.7%) with the average salary for charity communicators increased by 6% to £38,602 in 2020.
We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in our survey. Data and numbers can help us to tell the story of the current state of salaries and workplace culture in the charity sector, but the words and emotions that people have used to explain how they’re feeling are just as important. The past year has taught us all the value of connections and the part communication plays in making those connections, whether with family, colleagues or our audiences. With responses from more than 400 charity communicators, this report goes some way towards measuring how much that value is translated into remuneration, equality and job satisfaction within the sector.
Welcome from CharityComms
The COVID crisis has brought huge challenges to the Charity Sector, not least how to support and empower communications teams who have been working flat out to champion their cause and find ways to engage and inspire their audiences.
Talking to many charity comms people – a consistent theme has been how to keep teams motivated when faced with so much uncertainty and with so many competing demands.
Our survey provides timely insights to help create fair and transparent pay structures and working cultures which help comms professionals feel understood, valued and invested in. It simply makes sense to recognise the strategic role of comms, nurture talent and enable staff to be their very best at work.
We know that we still have much to do to create truly inclusive workplaces where staff can confidently bring their whole self to work.
I hope you will read the report with good intent and be encouraged to build thriving and resilient places to work. After all – people are the most valuable asset we have.
Welcome from Charity People
Managing Director, Charity People
I’m not sure about you but I have always been fascinated by salary surveys; as recruiters we can be guilty of coming to far-reaching conclusions based on subjective anecdotes via conversations with job seekers or hirers, quantitative data is always so interesting to either challenge or confirm those conclusions. Anecdotally it appeared that this year was the year that the value of communications began to be realised across the sector and beyond. But would this be recognised in the data? And how would this increased workload impact upon employees wellbeing and satisfaction? And what does this mean for future job opportunities across the comms sector?
Upon reading the results, it feels to me as though there have been significant strides in the right direction regarding issues of staff wellbeing, mental health in the workplace and equity, diversity and inclusion – but there is still so much more to be done. It is up to all of us to keep this momentum going, individually and organisationally. I do hope that you enjoy reading this report as much as I have.
salaries and roles
Last year we saw average salaries within charity communications continue to increase by 1.76% since 2017. This increased more significantly in 2020 by 6% to an average salary of £38,602.
The number of respondents telling us they work at management level and above increased by 8.07% on 2019, which may go some way to accounting for the sharper rise in average salary. The move to digital has also been cited as a cause for an increase in salaries, with an “increased appreciation generally of mar/comms function alongside an increase in digital-first approach to comms.”
Other key figures included:
The average salary at a larger charity (100+ employees) is £41,470, which drops to £35,524 at charities with less than 100 staff, and £31,985 at charities with 10 staff or less. This means that overall, the larger charities pay 23% more than the smallest organisations (up just 1% from 2019).
While women made up 82% of survey respondents, the average salary for men was £44,371 and £37,431 for women.
Of those listing their job level as CEO, 14% identified as male, rising to 26% at director/head of level.
64.8% of women respondents were in senior roles (manager and above), rising to 74.3% of men at a similar level who took part in the survey.
The number of those stating that their highest academic qualification was bachelors/honours degree fell by 3.4%.
The anecdotal perception of salaries within the sector paints a more negative picture, with market instability, the sense that the workforce is not valued and high turnover being cited as reasons for believing that mar/comms salaries have decreased over the past year.
“I work within the brand team in the comms dept. Comms overall is favoured, however the brand team are not. In fact I believe that we are one of the lowest paid teams in the organisation.”
– Brand manager working full-time at a large charity in the Midlands
“Pay isn’t well handled at my organisation and I feel like the onus is always put on us as employees to raise and chase it.”
– Senior officer working full-time in media relations at a large charity in the South East
A LinkedIn survey showed that 59% of professionals feel salary is the leading factor in whether or not they are fulfilled in their career. But despite increasing efforts in recent years on reporting pay gaps, salary transparency is not always included as part of the recruitment process.
How can charities continue to improve transparency around salaries?
- Benchmarking to keep salaries in line with others in the sector
- Ensuring transparency and good internal comms around compensation at all levels.
- Explaining the decision behind compensation decisions is just as valuable as being transparent about the figures, so a salary policy and having a clear organisational structure is key.
- Sign up to Show the Salary, to demonstrate commitment to narrowing pay gaps.
“As an organisation our salaries have always been benchmarked against similar orgs and positions – with our Board’s support we receive top tier salaries.”
– Head of department working part-time at a medium-sized London charity
Workplace culture and wellbeing
“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” With the concept of being ‘always on’ and the idea that we can schedule back-to-back Zoom meetings still prevalent, almost a year since the shift to remote working, many charity communicators would agree whole-heartedly with Jonas Salk’s sentiment.
Those who choose to work in the charity sector have always gone above and beyond for their mission but how have the benefits of working remotely balanced with the increase in demand on charity services and working longer hours? In a recent poll by Third Sector, 91% of people working in or for charities said a commitment to the charity’s mission drove them to work longer hours or take on more than they could cope with.
“The belief in the cause is often exploited as [charities] know people are ultimately replaceable, even if it will cost them more in recruitment, training up and managing changeovers.” – Officer working full-time in digital at a large London charity
COVID has clearly had an impact, with 45% of our respondents who said they are now working longer hours naming the pandemic as the reason, 15.5% stating the need to cover the work of those on furlough and 12.3% citing the cause as team reductions due to redundancies.
A continuing sense of commitment to the cause is still prevalent however, with some of the reasons listed for needing to work longer hours ranging from an enthusiastic love of the job and “wish to progress”, along with the feeling of being “motivated to go the extra mile!” or the rather more resigned, “comes with the territory of the job.” A number also cited needing to cover social media out of hours, which highlights the attention organisations should also pay to the support that may be needed for specific roles or job functions. The increasing pressures on social media managers is of particular concern, not just within the charity sector, with demand for social roles only continuing to grow.
Just under 72% stated that the need to work increased hours is due to a continuation of stretched resources that’s not necessarily due to COVID-19, which speaks to the increased strain on charities without a matching increase in funding or support.
Some of the reasons cited for the need to work longer hours include:
- Lack of digital knowledge and experience, landing other duties (eg. live-streamed events, online exhibitions) with our team.
- Unrealistic demands and lack of strategic forward planning.
- Expectations of senior leaders who are happy working 60 hour weeks.
- The working situation and the global climate has negatively affected my mental health and by extension my concentration so some tasks take slightly longer to complete.
- Poor management by CEO/lack of direction for the org means we do everything and anything.
- Lack of investment in the internal communications function.
- Covering for staff on long-term sick leave.
The statistics around how our work affects our mental health have moved in a similar direction, with a 3.4% increase in the number who believe their job is negatively impacting their mental health and a 6% decrease in those who believe it’s having a positive impact.
How organisations are communicating with their staff around what support is available, as well as being clear around expectations and being flexible and understanding that not everyone’s circumstances are the same is key in making remote working in particular a more realistic and effective long-term strategy.
Associate director - membership & education, Charity People
“We recommend all charities have a wellbeing programme of some description, at Charity People we encourage our staff to schedule weekly walk n’ talk calls with each other. We have a “support squad” in place internally to take calls at any time, plus access to an independent helpline where staff can speak confidentially to a trained counsellor. Throughout the pandemic we have coordinated regular online social events, to try and minimise feelings of isolation. This has included online yoga and exercise classes. We still hear from professionals in the sector, from both large and small charities, who haven’t experienced any investment in their mental health and wellbeing, so urge HR departments or leadership to create a policy or programme to address this.”
Despite 52% saying that they have needed to work three or more additional hours each week, 66.5% of charity communicators say that their job allows them to have a good work/life balance, often facilitated by the move to remote working: “It is often easier to keep an eye on emails and answer/intervene at the relevant moment, rather than three days later.”
The number of people saying their role makes them happy was 70%, a decrease of 6.8% on last year, and the number saying that how they felt about their role was indifferent to their happiness rose by 4.4% to 15%.
This year, while the numbers of charity communicators telling us their organsiation has a harassment policy in place increased by 3.2%, the number of those who felt it was implemented effectively fell by 7% (and those who felt it was ineffectively implemented rose by 2.75%). Our figures also saw an increase of 1.8% in those who have witnessed harassment in the workplace and a decrease of 4.3% in those who have not. Worryingly the number of those stating they had experienced harassment themselves increased to 12.4% (up 4.75% on last year).
So, while having a harassment policy in place is a great step in the right direction, making sure it’s fully understood and implemented across the organisation is just as important for employees to know that it’s more than just a tick-box exercise and to really make a difference in ensuring the workplace feels safe for everyone.
Looking after ourselves and each other
There is certainly no shortage of articles, advice and apps on how to practice self-care, which continues to be a huge industry. But how can charities offer real, practical support to employees who are stretched to the limit and move beyond platitudes to strategic action at all levels?
While we all have to take a certain amount of responsibility for how we allocate our time and separate our home and working lives, it’s clear that for many, expectations have increased and not all feel empowered to be able to say no to extra work, or even use their allocated leave and take that “time for yourself.” Self-care is no substitute for realistic working hours and pay, clear communications and strategy.
Communications Officer, Health in Mind
“The workplace is a big part of our daily lives and so has a big impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It’s the place where we spend most of our time, it’s our source of income, a place where we can connect with others and feel valued. For most of us, due to the pandemic, our usual workplace has changed and so has resulted in us having to change our routines.
This change in our working culture has meant that many of us are now feeling the lack of human contact, and we’re seeing a rise in loneliness in both our workforces and communities. We’re all missing the little everyday moments that we share with our colleagues by the printer, or when we’re making a cup of tea, that bring us together.
People are reporting that they are finding it more challenging to switch off when working from home and are finding themselves working longer days, as our personal and professional boundaries have been blurred. Lots of us have also faced additional pressures as we try to juggle work with childcare while schools are closed, or cope with redundancies and large parts of the sector being furloughed. This has placed extreme pressure on our workforces and, without appropriate support, will take its toll on people’s wellbeing.
It has never been more important that those working in the sector (and beyond) are supported and that organisations make their staff’s mental health and wellbeing a priority now and moving forward.”
- CharityComms wellbeing guide
- Wellbeing and fundraising – guide from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising
- How to support staff wellbeing during Covid19
- Four focus points for strengthening team wellbeing
- Wellbeing in charity communications
- Mental health at work offers resources and information to help support mental health in the workplace.
- Mental Health First Aid England offers expert guidance and training to support mental health. It also has some great free resources including the Take 10 Together toolkit.
- Third Sector Podcast: Workplace wellbeing in lockdown
Embracing the realities of remote working
Just over 41% of our survey participants reported that they did not work from home at all pre-COVID, which makes the rapid move to remote working all the more of a remarkable shift in such a short space of time.
Many charities have made a long-term commitment to more flexible working during the pandemic, with organisations such as Action on Hearing Loss giving up their London headquarters. While the office space market may be starting to pick up again, the shift to remote working is not something that people want to reverse, or at least not completely. The number of charity communicators expressing a wish to continue working from home 1-3 days a week (even after it’s safe to go back into the office in person) is just under 55%. Whilst another 13.5% said they were already working remotely full-time or would like to continue to do so. And just 3.6% of people said they are either unable or do not want to work from home.
With whole teams and staff at all levels all working from home, there is more of an acceptance of whatever child/pet/Amazon delivery drama that may be happening in the background. Perhaps too people’s thinking has changed in that they feel more empowered because they know now that working from home actually works. Pre-pandemic, issues around team management were often cited as reasons why home working wasn’t viable and, although it may be an ongoing process, many of these issues have been resolved through necessity, as a result of COVID.
The pandemic has shown that staff are overwhelmingly as (or more) efficient and effective when working from home at least some of the time, where they are able to balance the responsibilities of home and work in a way tailored to individual needs and requirements. A recent Harvard Business Review report showed that full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than those who work full-time from the office.
There can also be huge time and cost benefits in removing the daily commute, as well as significant benefits to mental health. Of course, this needs to be tempered with external factors currently at play such as pressures of home-schooling and the inability to go to the gym or get out and exercise as normal.
age 6, on the benefits of parents working from home
“It’s fun and you can help me with my work.”
Offering a mix of home and office-based working will be fundamental to a successful recruitment process in the future. Clearly it will be important for charities to continue this once it’s safe to return to the office in order to attract the largest pool of talent when recruiting.
Alongside this, it will be important to understand that individuals’ needs here will vary and to be as flexible as possible – for instance recognising that someone living in a house share may be more keen to be office based than someone living in their own accommodation. There may also be certain requirements around accessibility that need to be offered to ensure that home working is an option for all.
Offering a balance between home and office working will also be an excellent retention tool particularly with so much investment already having been made both on an organisational and individual level in remote working.
“For years we have been encouraging employers to offer more flexibility with virtual and part-time working but it was a cultural change that was quite often too hard to make. With COVID it forced employers to introduce new ways of working to embrace flexibility and it’s changed working environments for the long term.
Companies are seeing the benefits of sustaining some of the changes. I believe this will create a positive shift for women who desire more flexibility to work from home or more flexible hours if they can still get the work done. It’s important to focus on growth sectors like tech and Salesforce that foster these resilient well paid flexible job possibilities.”
Stability and company culture
Company culture has also grown massively in importance when considering a move to a new position. A 75-year Harvard study has demonstrated that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier” and are the most important factor in human happiness.
Whether reported directly or not, how staff perceive the growth of their organisations can impact how they behave in regard to their own career progression.
The number of respondents who believe that staff levels within their organisation will increase during the next year is down 7% on last year to 32%, while 28% believe levels will decrease (up 9% from last year).
The reasons for the increased belief in lower staffing levels, unsurprisingly, included redundancies from COVID and reduced incomes, restructuring and, sadly, pressures from home-schooling and mismanagement of racial and bullying issues. Other comments included:
- We are losing money and having to dip into reserves. We are very dependent on commissioned income (contracts from government) and these contracts are becoming fewer, with increased competition.
- People stopping working in high pressure fields with low income.
- The workload is already unsustainable and with the reduction of staff and a broader set of aims in the future, people will probably look for other jobs as it’s got to a stretching point.
- I think they will decrease to ‘save money’ but they absolutely should increase to save current staff going insane.
- A lot of staff are unhappy due to a lack of progression or investment in staff within the marketing department.
- People will leave due to stress / fear of being made redundant.
The value of comms
Whether promoting a new donor request or responding to social campaigns online, how we express ourselves and the messages we send out are under scrutiny like never before. So knowing that the work charity communicators do each and every day is actually valued within their own organisations is a huge part of how charity staff feel about themselves and their role.
“I’m hoping after this year people will see communications at a much higher value. Without my role, my organisation wouldn’t have fully went online and communicated through social media and continued on with work.”
– Comms officer working full-time at a medium charity in Scotland
“The extra time and effort that has been put into work duties this year has been recognised by senior management.”
– Events officer working full-time at a medium charity based in the Midlands
In 2019 just over half of charity communicators told us they felt others’ perception of the value of their role had increased over the past year. In 2020 that figure increased by more than 10% to almost 62%. For those working as freelancers, the increase was not quite as high but still an increase of almost 6% in those feeling that their role was more valued.
That seems very encouraging, but how has that perceived value translated into tangible support and resources?
“Under appreciation of the role and when orgs are squeezed, Comms is hit first.”
– Digital manager working full-time at a medium charity in London
“Not seen as a specialist role and one that anyone can do.”
– Head of comms working at a large charity in the Midlands
Unsurprisingly, internal communications has been vital in helping charities move forward swiftly. Specifically, people are paying more attention now to things that got taken for granted when everyone was there in person, just a quick chat and coffee away.
Given the tumultuous year, it’s encouraging that the number of people saying cross-team communication is effective within their organisation has remained the same at 43%, with an increase of 4% in those saying that it’s ineffective. Not a huge increase, but certainly something to note and work to mitigate, particularly given the huge challenges that working remotely can bring.
Embedding digital at all levels
Having a plan to incorporate digital “within the next three years” is no longer an option. Charities are having to rethink priorities and procedures at a rapid pace and adapt their communications and marketing accordingly to meet the changing landscape and provide a very different type of support to their communities. So how have they done?
The importance of including digital in business plans and strategy is reflected in our survey results. And in particular those who feel that senior management or board levels have a good understanding of digital has increased, up almost 9% to just under 40%.
The number of organisations who have a specific digital strategy has increased from 45.5% to 50% since last year, which shows some improvement and a further move towards digital. This increase is also reflected in the responses to how well digital is felt to be embedded within an organisation, with just under 50% saying it’s embedded effectively, up almost 6% on last year.
However, the number of respondents who said that they didn’t know whether there was a digital strategy in place increased from just under 8% in 2019 to 10.8% in 2020. This indicates that internal comms and training is more vital than ever, particularly if digital is not the primary function of that person’s role.
Issues of inequality, lack of diversity and pay gaps within the charity sector have become more visible over the past year. The work of campaign groups such as Show the Salary, #NonGraduatesWelcome and Charity So White, makes the continuing lack of diversity across the sector clear as individuals from BAME and LGBQT+ communities, and people with a disability, continue to be underrepresented. Lack of diversity across the sector is one of the biggest threats to the sector as a whole and its impact can be felt when we consider issues around the role and perception of the charity sector within society.
The make-up of an organisation’s staff, trustees and volunteers has an impact on how both those the charity works with directly and its supporters perceive whether it’s living up to its mission, as well as how wider audiences interact with its brand.
So how has that been reflected in the data and how those working at charities feel about representation within their organisations?
- Last year 93% of our salary respondents specified their ethnicity identified as white – this year the figure was 88.2%.
- When it comes to the pay gap, comments from our survey participants included, charities are “not willing to pay the right salary to a highly-skilled person when POC.”
Despite significant moves in the right direction there is still a long journey ahead before the sector becomes representative of society and of the communities it works with and within.
One significant recent change over the past couple of years seems to be that there is now a real appetite for, and willingness to bring about, change. Charities are starting to look closely at their structures with a critical eye and invest in ensuring change happens. However, if, as Javed Thomas, co-founder of the not-for-profit Race Equality Matters, says: “current measures to end the problem are ineffective at best and PR puff at worst” how can charities work to ensure their recruitment policies are facilitating a fair and transparent process?
Attracting talent from as diverse a pool as possible is key in the fight against inequality in the workplace. This includes practical changes to recruitment processes including but not limited to:
- anonymising CVs at shortlisting stage
- proactively seeking out advertisers that reach a diverse audience
- always showing salary and other benefits on a job description and advert
The work however doesn’t stop there. It is just as critical that there are increases in practices such as fostering a collaborative, welcoming and accessible working environment; ensuring interview questions are fair and interview panels are diverse; and uncovering and addressing unconscious bias. All of these elements contribute to ensuring a recruitment process is as fair as it possibly can be. Charity People delivered a webinar back in November which is a useful starting point for any organisation keen to learn more.
Much has been written over the past year about the detrimental effect of COVID on various demographics, and women in particular. A report from Women’s rights group, LeanIn indicates that in the US, “one in four women are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce due to Covid-19.” Numerous reports have shown that Black and Minority Ethic groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including charities and organisations that support BAME communities. In May 2020, the Ubele Initiative revealed that nine out of 10 BAME-led voluntary and community sector organisations were at risk of closure during the following three months.
From a diversity point of view, creating a working culture that is as accessible as possible is fundamental to ensuring that access to roles is open and inclusive to all. We may also see, over the coming months and years, a shift away from pervasive presenteeism which could have real and tangible effects in narrowing the pay gap.
With little change from 2019, the number of charity communicators identifying as disabled has grown by just 0.14% to 7.14%. And 65% of people this year said they feel that disabled people are under represented or not represented at all at their organisation.
It is estimated that over 90% of disabilities are not immediately visible so a charity may not be aware of the true numbers within their organisation. The willingness of staff to share information about their disability can be greatly affected by the culture within a charity. Many people with disabilities remain fearful about receiving a negative response from colleagues or line managers if they ‘disclose’ their disability. A recent report from ACEVO found that “disabled leaders are concerned about not having the same career options within the sector if they report their disability, and therefore may remain ‘hidden’.”
How has the move to home working impacted those with disabilities? While technology has certainly helped to lower the barriers for working remotely, a different set of challenges has emerged. For example the lack of inclusive design of many commonly used apps and software means workers with disabilities are unable to engage as fully as colleagues without disabilities. Although Zoom works well with screen readers, TikTok is more difficult to use with a screen reader because of the number of empty links and buttons. For neurodivergent workers, clear communication is especially important right now.
Isolation is also a problem in itself. While those with mental health disabilities can have more control over their environment and potential stressors while working from home, the effect of isolation can be extremely detrimental.
How employers can help to improve accessibility for those working from home:
- Ask what people’s needs are. Working from home may reveal a different set of needs. AbilityNet’s Clear Talents On Demand is a free online tool that creates a personalised report that identifies Reasonable Adjustments.
- Test the platforms you’re using to communicate. Do they work for those with visual- or hearing impairments? Even if it’s not immediately obvious, platforms can be adjusted or third-party options can be added on to make them more accessible for all. Also consider neurodivergent workers and what communication needs they might have.
- Think about their physical space. While this should be a consideration for all employees, physical needs are varied and adjustments can include using text-to-speech software or providing equipment such as ergonomic keyboards for people to use at home.
CEO, Business Disability Forum
“This is an interesting piece of research and we are pleased to see disability inclusion within the charity communication sector being discussed. With 1 in 5 people in the UK estimated to have a disability no sector can afford to overlook disability inclusion. Disability can affect any of us at any stage of our lives, meaning that having accessible and inclusive recruitment practices is not enough. Organisations also need to develop supportive and open workplace cultures where employees feel able to talk about a disability or long term condition without fear of being judged. Line managers have a key role to play in beginning those conversations. A robust and responsive workplace adjustments process is also vital. Many disabled people rely on adjustments, such assistive technology and flexible working, to help them carry out their roles effectively. Recognising adjustments as a productivity tool which everyone can benefit from can help to remove the stigma often associated with asking for adjustments and identifying as disabled.
The pandemic has impacted all of our working lives. For disabled people who are in roles which they can carry out from home it has brought both benefits and challenges. Initially, for many, there was the issue of getting assistive tech and other equipment put in place so they could work from home. Research carried out by Business Disability Forum early in the pandemic suggests that many HR teams responded quickly and effectively to this challenge.
With homeworking set up, for some disabled people the pandemic has offered the opportunity to work in a more flexible way which helps them to better manage their condition – taking breaks when needed and avoiding exhausting commutes. It has also helped ‘normalise’ flexible and home working, so that people who need to or who prefer to work from home no longer feel removed from colleagues who are working in the office environment.
Not all disabled people want to work from home, however. Homeworking can be isolating and can make communication with colleagues more difficult. Many disabled people are keen to get back to their usual places of work, for at least some of the working week once it is safe to do so. Going forwards, I believe more flexible ways of working will become the norm for many, as a result of the different ways that we have all had to carry out roles during this pandemic.”
- Show the Salary
- #NonGraduatesWelcome – a campaign to remove the requirement for an unspecified degree-level qualification from charity fundraising job descriptions
- Charity So White – a POC led campaign group seeking to tackle institutional racism in the charity sector
- She Leads: For Legacy – a community of individuals and organisations working together to reduce the barriers faced by Black female professionals aspiring for senior leadership and board level positions
- Race Equality Matters – a UK wide collaboration of thousands of organisations and millions of employees creating change to achieve Race Equality in the workplace
- Support and resources for BAME Communities from GMCVO – information, sources of support and resources for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities during the pandemic
- Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Change Collective – a campaign bringing professionals from across the fundraising sector working together to redefine its identity
- Arts Council England’s Culture Change toolkit – a toolkit to help organisations follow best practice in recruitment and develop a diverse workforce and leadership
- Walking the Talk – a cross-sector partnership led by NPC that aims to amplify voices within the social sector, sharing practical advice and honest personal perspectives to empower the sector to step up and do better
- Support to Work – a free online and telephone support programme for disabled people in England and Wales, who are looking for paid work
Personal development, benefits and training
Flexible working hours is still the number one choice for the benefit that is valued the most, with 60% citing it as their first choice, compared to 67% in 2019. Of the benefits that people actually receive, only pension contributions, time off for voluntary work and medical cover saw an increase in the number of people listing them since last year.
Despite support for professional development being listed as the third most valued benefit, a larger downturn was seen in training opportunities during the past year. This was evident in 38.8% of respondents saying they have been offered fewer training and development opportunities over the past year, up from 18.6% who gave the same answer last year. Just 27% stated that they have training and development opportunities booked in over the next 12 months. Investing in teams, staff training and making sure people feel valued and that they are progressing in their personal development is a key factor in retaining staff.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most utilised form of personal development was webinars. These increased by more than 30% to just over 77%, while conferences saw a drop by almost 18%. This could also be due to a case of the new vernacular around online events, with people classing any online event (including what is now considered an online conference) as a webinar, simply because it’s online.
Shrinking budgets have also clearly played a major part in this drop in opportunities. However, there are ways to be creative with a range of free webinars around that can both upskill job seekers and address hot topics for charities. Peer-to-peer networking groups can also be a great platform for charity professionals to learn from each other and share tips of the trade that can be instantly implemented.
There is no shortage of free online training and networking, with LinkedIn in particular providing an often underutilised gateway for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, via niche special interest groups.
The changing face of online events and training opportunities has certainly improved accessibility. There is now the ability to attract a more diverse range of speakers and take part in events or network groups that might have previously been too far away or expensive (also making them more sustainable).
But be warned. The sheer overwhelm of Zoom fatigue and the lack of real human connection that we’re used to means that, although they look like being here to stay (at least in a hybrid form) it will be important for charities to keep on top of how virtual events evolve to make the most of what personal development opportunities are available for their staff.
Despite more people working longer hours, both the number of those receiving bonuses and those receiving paid overtime or time off in lieu decreased compared to last year. When comparing the number of those working extra hours per week, those working longer hours are less likely to receive any compensation or time off in lieu.
Priorities, careers and the future
2020 was a year for many to re-evaluate their priorities, not least what they value most from their working life. Given the turmoil of 2020, is the cause still enough to retain someone at a charity?
87% of people said they were likely to stay in charity communications within the next five years, while the number of people saying they would definitely leave rose by just 1.2%.
The number of candidates open to new opportunities tells an interesting story. This number has officially remained stable, though anecdotally it feels as though lots of individuals have flipped from being open to an opportunity, or not, based on their employers perceived stability during these uncertain times. However 65.6% are open to moving on within the next two years, which suggests there is a significant number of people who, if presented with the right opportunity in the right way, would consider moving on.
Almost certainly driven by the current situation, the number of people stating that working from home would entice them to apply for a job rose to almost 75% from 67% in 2019.
In 2020 many predicted the advent of remote working would open up opportunities for people to be based anywhere in the country. Whilst this didn’t play out, charities who now offer a blend of remote and office working, stand a much higher chance of retaining their current staff and attracting new talent. Without a need to be office-based, full-time, Charity People has seen a dramatic increase in candidates who are open to a longer commute than before, knowing this will only likely be 2-3 times a week.
Being able to articulate how well an organisation has weathered the financial impact of the pandemic is likely to be a critical factor in turning a potential job seekers head, in the short-term at least. How well they articulate their cause may also be an important factor, as the statistics around which charity sub-sectors people would find most appealing to move to have shifted since last year. The sub-sectors of interest, society and work have shown the largest increase of 7.8%, with membership, hospices, education, disability and older people also showing increased appeal.
Accessing potential talent will remain a critical success factor and, alongside what an employer is offering in terms of working location, job seekers will be increasingly focused on the charities wider culture. Do they have a wellbeing programme in place? Are they doing enough to address the increased complexities surrounding mental health in the workplace? How charities convey and promote these messages to future employees will be crucial.
While the global situation may have made us rethink and revalue many things in our lives, the uncertainty of the job market has also urged many to remain cautious about making any sudden changes (at least changes that would be within their own control). The numbers planning a career move in the next 12 months are very similar to last year, with 36.4% saying yes, compared to 36.8% in 2019.
As the sector has faced huge losses in income, many charities have had to make redundancies. The number of charity roles being advertised has greatly reduced and the numbers of applicants for roles that are available has jumped dramatically.
This might also seem for many to be a great opportunity to start something new and work for themselves. A recent survey showed that 56% of Americans have said they’d be more secure working for themselves than in a traditional job in 2020. The number of charity communicators responding to our survey who told us they work part-time increased by over 5% since last year to 17% in total. Meanwhile the number listing themselves as freelancers increased by just 0.5%, potentially indicating more of a move to part-time roles within organisations.
While the vaccination roll-out has been a justified cause for optimism, it’s impossible to predict what changes will stay permanent and, with around 2.5 million people still on furlough as of February 2021 and charity finances continuing to be impacted, what the economic future holds.
So what are the key skills that organisations will look to take on board, to stabilise and grow during continuing periods of uncertainty? With 77% of charities having made greater use of digital and technology during the pandemic, the investment in digital will continue to grow.
“In the outside world, organisations need digital comms more to reach their audience and to have impact. We have done this and yet internally it is not recognised what added value this is and where we’d be without it.”
– Comms officer working part-time at small charity based in the South West
CharityComms recently produced a series of blogs and resources with the help of partners RandallFox around organisational structure and its impact on building a healthy comms culture. That research highlighted some new roles emerging along with a focus on more resources dedicated to strategic overview, planning, content and insight, digital marketing and internal comms. Along with a rise in agile working and increasing value in ‘softer’ leadership roles.
Clarity of strategy and a clear definition of how departments and individual roles work together should be a priority for charities looking to move forward with what they have learned over the past year and invest in their priorities, as well as acknowledging the value in comms.
“Organisations often try to recruit staff into ‘dual’ roles such as ‘social media manager/designer’. They see comms as an add on as opposed to a role on its own.”
– Comms manager working full-time at a large charity in the North West
“In charities specifically, especially small charities, marketing and communications is just not valued as an ‘essential’ component to business operations. CEOs and Boards, who may not include younger and more dynamic voices, see it as simply a matter of “posting on social media a few times a week” as opposed to a strategic and technical role that can create big impact.”
– Comms manager working full-time remotely at a medium-sized charity
One of the key takeaways from our report is overwhelmingly the importance of investing in people and how essential it is for charities to keep taking action to support their staff, to keep reviewing and updating these processes and to view wellbeing and support for mental health as more than just a tick-box exercise. Internal communications is essential to achieve this and needs to be embedded at all levels.
Clear, consistent and honest comms go a long way towards building trust both internally and externally, mitigating concerns and ensuring an ongoing collaborative and supportive culture of working. There have been lots of great developments over the past year that charities can continue to build on to ensure their people can thrive and grow in their roles, feel valued and know that their work really is helping to make a difference.
Data Tables and methodology
With more than 400 responses to a series of 67 questions, we have collected much more data than we have space here to analyse completely. So here we’ve included some data tables to provide additional information that might prove useful to the sector.
Whether you want to benchmark the salary that you should be earning, or know how you can advocate on behalf of your comms team, you can filter all of these tables according to specific fields. Meaning you can see salaries according to individual sub-sectors, locations, organisation size etc. and find those most relevant to you.
*Please note: there may be anomalies in the data with a high number of categories, as sometimes there are not always enough responses for an accurate result.
Survey responses came from the following role profiles:
0.7% volunteer/not in employment
83% full-time (75.6% of which were in permanent roles)
17% part-time (13.55% of which were in permanent roles)
14.8% Head of
9.9% Senior Executive/Officer
If there is any data you would like to find out more about, or talk to us about anything you have read, please get in touch!