Salary and Organisational Culture Survey 2022
Head of membership, CharityComms
Sarah is the head of membership at CharityComms. She’s dedicated to growing and improving the membership experience for our fantastic network of charity communicators.
Associate director - membership and education, Charity People
Glen has spent the last seven years working in partnership with the wider not for profit sector where he has placed over 250 professionals across membership, awarding bodies and charities.
Senior consultant - marketing and communications, Charity People
Alice has been recruiting in the charity sector since 2008 and is motivated by building lasting, successful relationships with her candidates and clients.
Introduction and Executive Summary
Each year, the salary and organisational culture survey provides an insight into how charity comms and marketing professionals feel about their job. It looks at how they are perceived within the sector, as well as helping to benchmark changes in salary levels and workplace culture.
This year we had 790 respondents (up from 495 in 2021), which is the most we’ve ever had participate. And once again the report has been produced in collaboration with Charity People.
Respondents were from throughout the UK. They are working at charities of all sizes and causes, and across a full range of comms roles and levels. More information about the respondents can be found throughout the report as well as in the methodology section.
Welcome from CharityComms
I hope like me – you will take heart from seeing many of the positive trends in this survey and where they are less encouraging take some solace in knowing you are not alone. By shining a light on the good and bad, we can be a catalyst for change.
“Never waste a crisis” is one of the mottos Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB, lives by. It’s a theme reflected in the survey which shows how the crises of recent years created the urgency and motivation for charities to change for the better. It drove up appreciation of communications and transformed workplace culture. It helped to drive innovation and embed digital. And finally it started to address workplace issues like staff wellbeing and inclusion.
But despite the progress our survey shows, there is a risk of falling back into business as usual. A risk of losing sight of the value of comms, the appetite for experimentation and the need to invest in and reward talent.
The cost-of-living crisis has thrown many of the people we serve into real hardship and that this in turn has increased demand for our services and staff workloads. We must move away from normalizing the culture of over work and that means modelling the behaviours we wish to see in others. Warm words will simply not do.
It’s a powerful message for me as the CEO of a small charity with an incredibly talented and committed team.
Lastly – a huge thank you to everyone who took time to share your experiences and to contribute to the richness of this report. It’s your expertise and generosity which makes the CharityComms community such a special place to be.
Welcome from Charity People
Managing Director, Charity People
This report is always fascinating but it feels more important than ever this year. As the cost-of-living crisis accelerates and inflation shows no sign of abating, it is critical that employers acknowledge and digest the information within. Thank you to every single person who responded – it is great to see the growth in data each year and I am sure the insights from 2022 will help inform charities and non-profits across the country.
As recruiters, we hear so much anecdotal evidence from conversations with people across the sector about charities failing to respond to the changing economic climate. A theme that feels confirmed after reading this report, which I hope can help to convey the sense of urgency that the sector needs to feel. The risk of losing talent to businesses with an increased sense of purpose across other sectors is very real – an issue which I am sure we will see transpire increasingly over the course of 2023 unless we see a real commitment to intentional action focused on pay, benefits and workload.
The charity sector is filled with talented, creative, passionate, and hardworking people. I truly hope that remains the case in years to come.
Thank you once again to all the respondents and I hope you enjoy reading the report.
We’ve had three turbulent years of change in how and where we work, while ongoing external factors such as the cost-of-living crisis brought additional challenges. But our 2022 survey indicates that the sector seems to be returning to more of an equilibrium. In fact many of the figures in this year’s report show we are moving closer to pre-pandemic levels on many fronts.
After a big rise last year, people tell us they are starting to feel less valued in their roles, but they are managing to maintain a better work/life balance. They feel more able to talk about their mental health at work, but don’t necessarily feel confident that anything will actually change as a result.
“As the cost-of-living crisis continues, charities need to understand that they need to pay staff fairly, or risk losing them to the private sector. We work in our sector because we want to make a difference, but if we can’t afford our basic living expenses the sector will lose us.”
– Digital manager working at an extra-large London charity
While the average salary has increased, those in the sector do not feel that their pay reflects the vital importance of the work that they do, or the responsibilities that their role often includes.
There also appears to be a continuation of stretched resources and lack of investment in learning opportunities and career development. These combine to create high levels of turnover as people look elsewhere and the sector loses existing talent and struggles to attract new recruits.
- The overall average annual salary has increased to £39,390.
- 34% have been in their current role for less than 12 months.
- Those planning a career move within the next 12 months has increased from 37% to 43%.
- 30% say that they are working from home full-time.
- 85% say they miss the social aspects of working in person.
- 42% think others feel that comms is more valued, a drop from 53% last year.
- 67% say they are happy in their role.
- 72% feel overall positively about their work/life balance.
- 85% feel able to talk about their wellbeing at work (either formally or informally).
- People are continuing to work beyond their contracted hours, 62% due to a continuation of stretched resources.
- 97% would expect flexible conditions as part of a future job.
- Having salary as “competitive” or not at all would discourage 80% from applying for a role.
- 16% say a degree listed as a requirement for a job would discourage them from applying.
Practicalities: salaries and roles
It may be true for many charities as Paul Streets, chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation says, that “our primary responsibility is to those we serve – many of whom will be at the sharpest end of the cost-of-living crisis.”
However, it’s also true that financial hardships are also hitting many of those who work in the sector. This can lead to tough decisions about what (and who) to prioritise in order to survive. In January 2022, Pro Bono Economics predicted that wages for charity staff would need to rise by nearly 9% over the next two years to keep up with inflation.
As in previous years, our survey shows that the average salary showed an increase, rising to £39,390 in 2022.
The most common level of responsibility was Manager/Lead at 31%, followed by Executive/Officer at 21% and Head of Dept at 14%.
Fluctuations in annual salary by job level were more marked at either end of the scale with Director roles showing a drop to an average of £60,063, Assistant roles increasing to £26,069 and Executive / Officer roles also showing a drop to £28,613. Head of, Senior Manager and Senior Executive / Officer roles all saw a slight rise.
The number of people telling us that they manage people or teams as part of their job increased slightly this year to 57%. Of those who said they manage people or teams as part of their role, the majority were in a Manager or Lead role at 34%, followed by Head of dept (24%), Director (15%), and Senior manager (14%).
Having management responsibilities as part of a role does seem to equate to a higher salary, whether the job title includes ‘manager’ or not. This is more marked at Head of or Senior manager level, while the differences between those who manage people or a team at Executive or Officer level does not show as much of a contrast.
“Job titles don’t necessarily always reflect the level of responsibility and therefore while salary might seem fair it isn’t. [Someone might be] paid average salary for officer level but in reality have managerial level responsibility.”
– Marketing manager working at a medium-sized charity in Scotland
“Senior officer positions are one of the worst in terms of requirements of the role vs salary. I am line managing a team of officers and being asked to feed into big strategic projects, yet do not earn a manager’s salary.”
– Senior marketing officer, working at a large London charity
Communications remained the top area of specialisation of those who responded, at 24%, followed by digital/online/social media at 18%, with 16% saying they cover all areas.
55% of those saying that their role covers all areas work at medium charities (11-100 employees) with 23% saying they are at small charities (1-10 employees).
“In smaller charities the comms people are paid really poorly. There tends to be a lack of understanding of what comms really is, its skill set and how much work goes into the execution. Often comms people are managing way above their title.”
– Officer working across all areas, at a small charity in the South West
The number of those who felt that marketing and comms salaries had increased during 2022 rose significantly to 36% (from 20% in 2021).
This makes sense when we see that 74% of people said that their own earnings had increased during the past year, with 4% saying the amount they earn had decreased.
The reasons for a change in salary present a mixed picture, with increasing numbers of annual salary increases, fewer promotions, and others citing a cost of living increase.
Those reporting an uplift in salary due to an annual increase rose from 41% to 50%, while those saying their earnings changed due to a promotion dipped from 24% to 14%.
8% specifically cited a cost-of-living payment as a reason for their change in salary, with 11% experiencing a difference due to moving jobs.
When it comes to additional financial incentives and benefits, slightly fewer people said that they receive paid overtime or time off in lieu (from 77% in 2021 to 74% in 2022).
Pension contributions remain the most common benefit at 81%. Featuring for the first time in our survey was a working from home allowance, which 15% of people said they receive.
The biggest dip was in time off for voluntary work or trusteeship, which fell from 44% in 2021 to 32% this year.
“The sector needs to pay enough to attract best candidates. These salaries are too low for anyone struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. We are losing good people to the private sector.”
– Digital manager working remotely for a medium-sized charity
How much experience do you have…
34% of people said they had been in their current role for less than 12 months, with 3.3% saying they’d been in the same role for more than 10 years. At 40%, the majority of people have been in their role for 1-3 years.
- While the overall average salary showed an increase, fluctuations by job level were more marked at either end of the scale. This included Director roles dropping to an average of £60,063 and Assistant roles increasing to £26,069.
- 24% specialise in communications, followed by digital/online/social media at 18%, with 16% saying they cover all areas.
- Having management responsibilities as part of a role does seem to equate to a higher salary, which is more marked at Head of or Senior manager level.
- 74% had an increase in earnings during the past year, with 8% specifically citing a cost-of-living payment as a reason for their change in salary.
- Promotions are down, but annual salary increases rose from 41% to 50%.
- 34% have been in their current role for less than 12 months.
Organisation structure and ways of working
The rise of remote working has not just given people and organisations more flexibility – LinkedIn has seen a 304% spike in titles that reference “hybrid work” – but has also seen the creation of new roles and job titles, many with a focus on people and morale.
Although relatively unheard of a few years ago, the role of employee-experience manager now sits in fifth place in LinkedIn’s 2023 list of the fastest-growing jobs in the US. Triggered by a rise in employee burnout and dissatisfaction, this role focuses on worker engagement and retention.
Being able to recruit people based practically anywhere in the country has also given organisations the ability to attract a much wider range of talent.
The drop in those saying they live in London continues, falling to 42% this year from 48% in 2021. The areas showing the biggest increases in numbers were the South West (10.15%) and Scotland (8.35%).
Over the past four years, the biggest shift in the size of organisations is across the large to medium organisations, with the number of those in the large category (101-999 employees) reducing steadily from 39% in 2019 to 30% this year. Those in the medium category (11-100 employees) has increased from 37% in 2019 to 48% in 2022.
The numbers at either end of the scale have remained more consistent. So, this could be an indicator of more charities restructuring, reducing headcount or moving to smaller teams which pushes the organisation to below 100 members of staff.
Last year, 51% of people thought that their organisation’s staff levels would increase. In 2022 that figure has dropped to 41%, with a slight rise in the number saying that it would stay the same or decrease. This perhaps indicates that planned organisation growth has either already happened, been postponed or planned to take place over a longer time frame.
“The pay is not competitive for newcomers and lots of roles are becoming 18 month/6 month contracts to try to fill the current job gap instead of hiring based on skills.”
– Marketing officer working at a large charity in the Midlands
At 9% there has also been an increase in the number of people who are uncertain about what staff changes the next year might bring.
2021 might have also seen more urgent organisational changes during the period that saw us start to stabilise coming out of the pandemic. So, it can be seen as an anomaly in this way, particularly as the rate of change seems to be normalising back to 2019 levels.
Unsurprisingly, the main reason cited for a decrease in staffing was budget cuts or the economic situation at 28%. That was followed by funding difficulties, redundancies or restructuring, and high turnover or staff leaving, all at 16%.
“Incredibly slow recruitment processes and directors not being transparent with status of changes they say are going to happen – drives a lack of trust and people don’t feel valued.”
– Senior media officer, working at a large London charity
Offering the right balance
Compared to 2021, worries around strategic thinking, being creative and working effectively as a team seem to have reduced. But it’s the social aspect of working life that people feel is increasingly difficult to replicate remotely.
When it comes to ways of working, many do not miss being in the office at all, with “the flexibility of working from home and not commuting far outweighing any issues with creativity.” Other comments reference difficulties with internal comms as the main disadvantages, such as sharing basic info like when people are available or finding out what’s going on with the wider organisation.
“Face to face also offers better conflict resolution and makes it easier to have difficult conversations when things go wrong, tackling poor performance etc.”
– Head of department, working remotely across all areas for a medium-sized charity
Another concern about what might be more difficult when working in remote or hybrid mode is around supporting newer colleagues. This includes everything from sharing knowledge as part of learning and development through to demonstrating best practice.
“I’m really concerned about the impact of remote working on the progress, development and learning of junior members of staff.”
– CEO at a small charity in the South East
How people feel about cross-team communication has also changed since last year, with 49% saying they feel their cross-team comms is effective overall, up from 40% last year. The number who feel that it’s ineffective has also dropped from 33% to 27%.
So, despite the ongoing hiccups with remote working practices, it’s encouraging that people are generally feeling that they can continue to collaborate effectively with colleagues.
Flexibility as the norm
According to a recent Gallup poll, 34% of remote-capable workers would prefer to work from home permanently and 3% would like to work in the office full time. A less rigid approach seems to be the focus for many organisations – “What people want is flexibility. It’s not necessarily ‘I don’t ever want to come to the office.'”
22% of our survey respondents say that they would ideally like to work from home full-time, with 36% saying they would prefer to work from home 3-4 days a week. 3% said that they do not want to work from home.
Flexible working hours remains the most valued benefit, followed by pension contributions and support for professional development. Included for the first time this year, working from home allowance came in as the fifth most valued benefit.
Focusing on freelancers
When it comes to feeling valued, 23% of freelancers felt that their work was more valued by others than last year, with 11.5% saying they felt it was less valued.
50% said that competition and price pressure occasionally affect their rates, with 22% saying it affects their rates more frequently. 47% said that they receive payment late or need to chase outstanding payments.
"Freelance charity positions seem to be lower paid and less valued which is the opposite to other sectors I work with."
- Head of department, working remotely across all areas for a medium-sized charity
- 30% say that they are working from home full-time.
- Although down on last year, flexible working hours remains the most valued benefit at 11%, while working from home allowance came in as the fifth most valued benefit.
- 85% say they miss the social aspects of working in person. But worries around strategic thinking, being creative and effective team working seem to have reduced.
- 49% feel their cross-team comms is effective overall, up from 40% last year.
Sector data and insights
- After the Storm – a consolidation of data, insights, and predictions for the post-pandemic charity sector.
- The AMA Salary Minimum Guidelines 2021-22 - a set of salary baselines for roles in the arts and heritage sector.
Ways of working
- How managers are investing in remote and hybrid team success
- How to dismantle workplace silos - Charity Digital take a closer look at the different types of silos and share silo-busting success stories.
- The Ultimate Guide to Internal Communications Strategy - a guide from Poppulo.
- Free resources from How to be a Productivity Ninja including a weekly review checklist, and "manage your energy, not your time."
- Collaborate with kindness - best practices for channels and messages in Slack.
- How much time and energy do we waste toggling between applications?
- Resources and useful links on managing remote and hybrid working from CIPD.
- Employee financial wellbeing - guide from CIPD for HR practitioners and employers to support their employees' financial wellbeing.
Guides and best practice
- Best practice guide to pro-bono working - guide from Healthcare Communications Association to support pro bono partnerships.
- The IoIC Guidance on Ethical Practice - guide from the Institute of Internal Communications ethical communications.
Tips for freelancers
Workplace culture and wellbeing
The overall number saying that are happy in their role decreased slightly to 67% while the number saying they are unhappy increased slightly to 18%.
However, figures around work/life balance and the impact of job roles on mental health paint a most positive picture. This perhaps indicates the more ephemeral nature of the concept of happiness and that it's possible to have a healthy work/life balance without 100% loving our jobs the whole time.
Those feeling overall positively about their work/life balance has increased slightly again this year to 72%. Although those who strongly disagreed that their role facilitates a good balance also rose slightly, we see an overall decrease in those who feel their job has a negative impact.
2022 also saw an increase in the number of those who feel that their role impacts their mental health in a positive way, with a decrease in those saying it has a negative impact.
"I would look favourably on organisations that specifically named mental health and wellbeing support in job packs, particularly for organisations that receive a lot of negativity online."
- Senior social media officer, working at a medium-sized London charity
Taking practical action for wellbeing
Over the past year, many organisations have focused on employee wellbeing, working to counteract the lingering effects of pandemic burnout.
A 2022 State of work/life wellness report found that in the UK, 89% of Gen-Z employees would resign if their employer did not focus on employee wellbeing. While a recent People's Health Trust survey of voluntary and community sector organisations found that the main reasons cited for burnout included an increase in workload, the struggle to maintain a good work/life balance and an increase in service demand.
"It's talked about but not enough tangible action is being addressed to tackle the underlying causes, such as workload."
- Head of digital, working remotely for a medium-sized charity
Encouragingly, the number of people from our survey who feel able to talk about their wellbeing at work (either formally or informally) has increased to 85% from 82% in 2021.
The key question to consider now is what happens afterwards. The ability to talk about how we're feeling is all well and good in theory, but without practical resources and support to address the underlying issues, change is unlikely to happen.
Despite an appreciation that wellbeing initiatives are set up with good intentions, comments overwhelmingly focused on moving beyond a tickbox exercise and doing more than just making space to talk and advising staff to "take a break" when the work ultimately still needs to be delivered. Making workloads more manageable and allowing more honest conversations at all levels were also mentioned as actons that need to be taken to break down these barriers.
"It's encouraged in theory, but in practice these conversations are not productive, and the onus is on you to lead the conversation and come up with the solutions. Not enough support from senior leadership."
- Digital manager, working remotely for a medium-sized charity
Stretched resources and lack of investment in comms
Working overtime or responding to messages outside of office hours was stealthily becoming the norm for many even before the pandemic, and now we have the notion of ‘quiet quitting’. The acts of “saying no to projects that aren’t part of your job description, leaving work on time, or refusing to answer emails and Slack messages outside of your working hours” - is being seen in a negative light rather than being seen as enforcing healthy work/life boundaries.
"Expecting workers to go above and beyond simply to avoid being marked out as ‘bad’ is unethical, unsustainable and goes some way to explaining why morale is at an all-time low."
Of the 645 respondents of the People’s Health Trust survey of the voluntary and community sector, nearly nine in ten said they had experienced increases in demand for their services and activities since the pandemic began.
"It's just a given that sometimes we have to work over our hours. No help or support is given as managers see it as normal."
- Communications officer, working at an extra-large London charity
Given this increasing demand for services coupled with a growing expectation to go above and beyond across all sectors, we would expect to see a continuing rise in the number of additional hours worked in our survey results.
"Organisation has grown but comms support hasn't so I inevitably work over to keep up with demand."
- Communications manager, working at a medium-sized charity in the South East
Those answering "none" to the question of how many hours each week they typically work over the number stated in their contract was almost identical to last year at just under 15%.
While this indicates a continuing situation of an overstretched workforce, the figures for those working three or more hours extra decreased very slightly, and those saying six or more hours decreased even further still on last year (from 14% to 12%).
However, those saying they work 10+ hours increased from 3.3% to 4.6%.
The need to work more than contracted hours is overwhelmingly due to a continuation of stretched resources at 62%.
A variety of other reasons include a lack of investment in comms staff, organisational growth coupled with a struggle to recruit vacant roles, and the need to work out of regular hours to meet factors such as breaking news and during campaign times.
"We're victims of our own success - more awareness, more demand, no more resource. Internal HR processes are incredibly slow so we're consistently over stretched."
- Head of communications, working at a large charity in the Midlands
"I really struggled to log off when I was first wfh during the pandemic, but I've managed to be stricter about it now."
- Senior communications officer, working at a medium-sized London charity
Encouragingly, several comments indicate that people are managing to find more of a balance for themselves, in how they work and how they manage their own time.
But on a more worrying note, there also seems to be a growing culture where it's the norm to be overworked, with an expectation from within the organisation that this is natural within the charity sector.
"A CEO who doesn't care about people and the hours they work, just keeps making ongoing demands. They are a workaholic and expect everyone to be on tap 24/7."
- Director, working across all areas, at a medium-sized London charity
While down on 2021 (and still miniscule overall), the number of those receiving monetary compensation for hours worked is up on 2019 levels. The number saying they receive time off in lieu increased from 47% to 52%. However, the number of people working additional hours for no compensation at all is 40%.
- 67% say they are happy in their role.
- 72% feel overall positively about their work/life balance.
- 85% feel able to talk about their wellbeing at work (either formally or informally), an increase from 82% in 2021.
- There is a need to move beyond a tick box exercise (however well-meaning) to working with staff to start honest conversations, address practical concerns and create real change.
- People are continuing to work beyond their contracted hours, 62% due to a continuation of stretched resources, along with a lack of investment in comms staff, the struggle to recruit vacant roles, and the need to work out of regular hours to meet external factors.
- The number saying they receive time off in lieu for working additional hours increased from 47% to 52%, but those working overtime for no compensation at all is 40%.
- CharityComms wellbeing guide - case studies from charities with tips and techniques on building resilience and looking after all of our mental health.
- Wellbeing and fundraising – a guide from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.
Tips for individuals
- Wellbeing in charity communications- tips and resources on supporting ourselves and each other to improve mental health and resilience at work.
- Overcoming burnout: a psychologist’s guide - burnout symptoms, why work can leave you feeling exhausted, and the best ways to recover.
Tips for organisations
- 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, plus free resources including the Take 10 Together toolkit.
- Guide to Best Practice in Ethical Digital Marketing & Comms Practices - a guide from Charities Against Hate that includes ways to look after social teams.
- Seven ways companies can reduce burnout and bring out the best in their employees.
- 13 ways to manage your team to avoid burnout
- How companies – and employees – can avoid a burnout crisis
The value of comms
53% of people who took part in Meltwater’s State of Social Media 2023 report stated that social media has become more important for their organisation due to economic uncertainties.
Our survey shows that people working in the charity sector think that how other's perceive the value of their work has changed quite significantly. 42% said they think others feel that comms is more valued, (a drop from 53% last year), while 10% think that others feel comms is less valued (up from 7% last year).
During 2020, we saw a big boost in how comms was valued. The comms function was seen as essential to new ways of working, reaching an even wider range of audiences, and as a fundamental part of engaging stakeholders at a critical time.
"I love working in marketing and communications for charities but there is a gross misunderstanding of the value that marketing and digital comms plays in raising awareness, brand/charity loyalty and ultimately funds."
- Head of department, working across multiple areas at a medium-sized charity
That sense of urgency now seems to have worn off, and with it, the appreciation of those doing the comms work on a daily basis. Our figures here focus on how those working in comms believe their role and their work is perceived by others. So, perhaps it now seems disappointing to go back to levels more similar to 2019.
"No appreciation, poor pay, no progression."
- Head of communications, working at a large London charity
This could also point to the importance of organisations having ways of showing appreciation. Or having ways of measuring and sharing impact in place so that everyone can see the value of their role. Creating channels for feedback is especially important in a remote working situation.
"As an in-house creative I feel wildly undervalued given that I'm responsible for how the organisation looks and sounds to our audience. We're the least valued members of the team with the least opportunities for progression."
- Senior creative officer, working at a medium-sized charity in the South West
Since 2020, the numbers of those with comms and/or marketing as part of their role who work within an organisation has continued to shift from the higher end of the scale to the lower end.
Organisations with 21 or more people working in marcomms have decreased from 21% in 2020 to 16% in 2022, while those with 1-3 people in those roles have increased from 32% to 40% during that time.
"Marketing and comms salaries in the charity sector are still undervalued relative to fundraising roles - income is considered more important. This perception needs to change but can only do so if we become stronger at measuring impact and showing the interdependency of both."
- Director, working across all areas, at a medium-sized London charity
The largest proportion of people who feel that comms is more valued than last year work at small charities (52%) while 15% of those working at extra-large charities think it's less valued.
When it comes to roles, the charity communicators who are more likely to feel that comms is more valued by others are working as Directors (66%), CEOs (64%), or Senior managers (53%). Those more likely to think comms is less valued are working at Officer (50%), Manager/Lead (48%) or Head of level (44%).
Driving digital forward
While the number reporting that their organisation has a specific digital strategy fell from 37.5% in 2021 to 34%, those who said their organisation does not have a specifical digital strategy also fell, from 33% to 28%. The number saying that they are planning a strategy increased from 22% to 29%.
This might indicate more of a shift in leadership or overall organisational strategy, or may even be due to the number of people who are new in their role or organisation, rather than a move away from the importance of embedding digital.
It could also indicate a holdover from the pandemic, when plans might have been on hold. Now organisations are prioritising digital after being in crisis mode and a period of enforced experimentation, with positive outcomes now becoming more strategic.
Many organisations are also struggling with losing staff and finding appropriate replacements.
"There's a gap in charity sector HR knowledge of how to get the best digital staff - pay needs to be more, and fully remote options need to be respected."
- Digital manager, working at an extra-large London charity
After seeing an increase in how effectively people felt that digital was being embedded in their organisation during the height of the pandemic in 2020 (with just under 50% saying it was effectively entrenched) the trend seems to be slowly moving back closer to 2019 levels.
This year, 46% believe digital is effectively embedded at their organisation, while 44.2% said the same in 2019. Similarly to how people feel about how their comms role is valued, it seems that digital was viewed as something to be enhanced and valued much more during the pandemic, perhaps as much out of necessity as anything else.
"Digital comms is a must for future proofing organisations."
- Director, working across all areas at a medium-sized charity in the Midlands
Organisations may now be taking the time needed to embed their digital practices in a more strategic way, learning from what worked well and what might need to be developed more after the initial steps.
Our survey responses also show the importance of an organisation-wide strategy that takes everyone on the journey forward.
The number of those who feel there is a good understanding of digital from their board or at senior management level dropped slightly from 38% to 36%. This is balanced somewhat as the number of those saying that there was not a good understanding also decreased (from 48% in 2021 to 44% in 2022).
A more worrying trend is the increase in the number saying that they don't know - from 14.5% in 2021 to just over 20% in 2022. This may indicate a disconnect between trustees and senior management and the rest of the organisation around perceptions of digital understanding.
- 42% think others feel that comms is more valued, a drop from 53% last year.
- There is a sense that comms teams are not being as invested in, understood or appreciated as they may have been during the height of the pandemic, leading to an overall drop in morale.
- 46% believe digital is effectively embedded at their organisation - down on 2021.
Digital strategy and thinking
- Think BUGS - a quick, useful list from Platypus Digital's Matt Collins to get your started on your digital strategy.
- Six tips for digital success
- Digital 2022: global overview report – an overview of social media trends from Hootsuite.
- Digital resources from DataKind UK.
- Econsultancy’s digital and marketing trends for 2023
Tips and resources
Representation and accessibility
Factors that affect salary and the diversity of the workforce
Rates of pay within the sector can vary greatly depending on location, with London continuing to dominate the higher end of the scale.
Another factor is age, "with less than 6% of employees in the voluntary sector under 25, and less than 2% being 16 to 19, there is a significant lack of representation of younger generations in the workforce."
"The pay drops dramatically outside of London, despite there being expensive cities to work in that aren't London, which means remote jobs are often the best option for a decent salary."
- Communications manager, working at a medium-sized London charity
"The sector outside of London pays charity comms jobs as so low it is becoming unaffordable to work in this sector, breeding even less diversity than already exists."
- Communications officer, working at a large charity in the Midlands
"Comparably lower wages mean that charities have a more limited pool of people willing or able to contribute their skills by working within it. That limited pool is also less diverse, with lower pay likely to be making it more difficult for people from less advantaged backgrounds to take up opportunities in the sector."
Transparency and accessibility
According to a BBC Panorama survey, "young people, particularly those from deprived backgrounds, have had their earnings and job prospects hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, adding to fears for the long-term impact on their futures."
The numbers saying their highest level of academic qualification is a bachelors or masters degree remained consistent with last year at 50% and 27% respectively.
Those saying that their highest level of qualification is GCSEs or 'O' Levels has steadily increased from 1.2% in 2019 to 2.6% this year, perhaps indicating some slight move towards a more accessible sector and a recognition of experience over qualifications.
"Companies that resist or ignore salary transparency measures may struggle to recruit top talent at any salary."
80% of people said that listing a salary as "competitive" or not listed at all would put them off applying for a role. 16% of people said that a degree being listed as a requirement for a job would discourage them from applying.
"A degree is not necessarily an indicator of a good brain or intelligence. Attitude, initiative, intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm are more important."
- Director of communications, working at a large London charity
"Salaries being hidden from job descriptions is unacceptable in this day and age and with the shortage of talent we have in fundraising, especially digital fundraising."
- Digital manager, working at a medium-sized London charity
Focus on disability
Parkinson's UK recently pledged to more than double the representation of people living with disabilities who work at the charity to 20% over the next three years.
Our figures show an increase each year since 2019 in the number of people working in charity communications saying that they have a disability, reaching a peak of 12.4% in 2022.
While working from home can undoubtedly help to make a role more accessible - from removing commuting time to reducing the need to navigate potentially inaccessible workspaces - it can also bring increased social isolation and highlight different types of obstacles.
In recent UK research from Instant Offices, 9% of disabled workers said that they struggled to use online meeting platforms and 60% missed social interactions with co-workers.
"My skills and experience are beyond my entry-level salary, but I have struggled to find work as an autistic person. I prioritised being able to work from home on a part-time or flexible basis but this often resulted in a smaller salary.
While it is better than other sectors in many ways, the charity sector still feels quite hostile to autistic workers."
- Digital officer, working remotely at a medium-sized charity
Speaking to Civil Society News, Sense’s chief executive officer Richard Kramer said that every charity should be required to disclose disability and ethnic minority pay gap data.
The gender pay gap
The price of purpose? Pay gaps in the charity sector report recently showed that the charity sector continues to endure a gender pay gap of 4.1%
The annual Women in Public Affairs (WiPA) survey showed that an overwhelming majority (96%) of women working in the public affairs industry are worried about the cost-of-living crisis. It also found that transparency in the industry has not increased significantly in the past year, with only a third (34%) publishing their gender pay gap.
Our survey shows that, in general, men continue to earn more than their female counterparts working in charity communications. Just two job levels saw female earnings higher than male earnings - Head of and Senior executive / Senior officer levels. Both CEO and Assistant levels did not include sufficient numbers to make a valid comparison.
"As a single parent with a high workload I find it hard to balance wanting to work for a charity with the need to look after my children and pay my bills."
- Head of communications, working at a large London charity
Feeling safe at work
While working from home has made organisations more accessible and allowed people to apply for roles that would have previously been out of reach, a US survey last year showed that 38% of employees still experience harassment remotely, through email, video conferencing, chat apps or by phone.
Our survey shows an increase on those saying that the policies and procedures around harassment their organisation has in place are implemented effectively (from 38% to 43%).
"Bullying behaviours are less likely to be spotted in the digital workplace."
- How workplace bullying went remote, BBC, August 2022
Although our figures around witnessing or experiencing harassment in the workplace show little change on last year's numbers, organisations should be aware that bullying or harassment can take many forms, often in more subtle ways, as the workplace continues to shift from a physical space to a digital one.
"For our younger employees in particular, who may still be forming their sense of self, it’s so important to create a safe and enabling culture."
- Samir Patel, chief executive of Comic Relief, talking to Civil Society
- At 12.4% in 2022, our figures show a year-on-year increase in the number of people saying that they have a disability.
- Having salary as "competitive" or not at all would discourage 80% from applying.
- 16% of people said that a degree being listed as a requirement for a job would discourage them from applying.
- Accessible communications - a CharityComms resource helping charities to start to foster more inclusive comms.
- Digital accessibilty resources compiled by the CIPR.
- Top tips for accessible communications
- Making your social media accessible
- Accessible communication formats - guidance for government communicators but may also be useful to other comms professionals in the private and voluntary sectors.
- Inclusive and ethical recruitment for charities
- The price of purpose? Pay gaps in the charity sector- report from Pro Bono Economics.
- Show the Salary – a campaign to tackle pay gaps in the charity sector.
- #NonGraduatesWelcome – a campaign to remove unspecified degree-level qualifications from job descriptions.
- Arts Council England’s Culture Change toolkit – a toolkit to help organisations follow best practice in recruitment and develop a diverse workforce and leadership.
Making the workplace more inclusive
- 2022 Women in Public Affairs (WiPA) survey.
- Analysis and guidance on the Gender Pay Gap in 2022.
- How museums can support young people’s employment and employability skills - a guide showing how museums can help young people develop transferable skills for employment.
- Tackling racism in the workplace – resources and guidance from CIPD.
- Race Equality Matters – a UK wide collaboration creating change in the workplace.
- Inclusion at work 2022 – benchmarking information and recommendations.
- The benefits of remote work for people with disabilities
- Diversity wins: how inclusion matters - the third report in a McKinsey series investigating the business case for diversity.
- Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Change Collective
- Why racial and gender representation matters in charity boards
- 8 steps to build meaningful diversity and inclusion analytics – a guide for organisations to build meaningful diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging analytics.
- AbilityNet - free online resources and community to help individuals with any disability, of any age, to use all kinds of digital technology.
Dealing with harassment
A recent report by Pro Bono Economics found that 19% of small charities spent nothing on training their staff and volunteers in the previous financial year.
Our survey shows that when it comes to training opportunities, while there has been some investment in official avenues of development, many people feel that the onus is on the individual to create their own opportunities.
"Took on training courses from my own research, these were not offered by my organisation."
- Marketing officer, working at a medium-sized charity in the Midlands
"I would love to do more but operational burden and low staff reduces the opportunity."
- CEO, working at medium-sized charity in the North East
Although slightly down from last year, the trend towards online training continues, with those saying they attended webinars during 2022 at 66%. Those attending conferences or seminars dropped from 56% to 51%, showing a continuing decrease from a high of 75% in 2019.
"Nothing formal offered, but if I can carve out time from my hectic schedule then I'm fine to attend free online courses/webinars."
- Head of department, working across all areas at a small London charity
Those saying they have participated in role-shadowing and shared-learning have both increased, indicating a move towards sharing knowledge within teams and the wider organisational structure.
Structured training also shows an increase with those saying they attended a training course increasing from 61% last year to 68% in 2022 (almost back at 2019 levels).
Investment in future training does not seem as certain for the year ahead, with the number of those saying they have training and development opportunities booked in for the next 12 months dropping from 37% last year to 33% in 2022.
Those saying they do not have anything booked yet also increased from 59% to 64%. Perhaps this is a reflection of staff turnover as well as a hesitancy to commit training budgets.
55% of people said that professional organisations play some role in their career. This question was phrased slightly differently in previous years, when we asked, "What role do you see professional organisations like those above playing in your future career?" So while it's not possible to directly compare the numbers of those saying "none", that figure had been increasing year-on-year since 2019. Perhaps a call for organisations offering training and development to focus on demonstrating value.
- Formal training saw an increase in popularity with 68% of people saying they have attended a training course during the last year.
- Many comments indicate that the onus seems to be in the individual to seek out their own training, and then try to find the time out of their busy schedules to attend.
- Online training remains popular, with 66% saying that had attended webinars.
- CharityComms events and on-demand content
- CharityComms mentoring scheme
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) – learning resources on YouTube
- Third Sector PR & Comms network – a Facebook group for people working in Comms, PR or Marketing in the Third Sector
- Charity UK LinkedIn group
- UK Fundraising LinkedIn group
- Directory of Social Change – charity training
- Foundation for Social Improvement – training courses
Priorities, careers and the future
A survey in August 2022 of higher education employees found that nearly 60% felt their voice is not heard at work, just 34% felt their institution understands their needs as an employee and 49% would consider a new job if an opportunity came along.
Encouragingly, our survey showed that more people than last year believe that their current role is helping them to progress their longer-term career.
People working in charity communications seem more likely to make a job move within a year than those in the wider world of work. In May 2022 research from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that one in five workers were likely to switch jobs in next 12 months. In general, Gen-Z workers were almost twice as likely as other generations to have switched roles since the start of the pandemic.
Our survey shows that the number of charity workers planning a career move in the next 12 months has increased from 37% to 43%, with the number saying 'no' falling to 12%.
Those happy to stay but who would consider a move for the right role also dropped to 44%.
How someone feels they can create change and influence others can have a significant impact on how long they stay in role, particularly if that role needs to show an almost immediate ROI.
Our survey numbers show that those saying they are definitely likely to stay in charity communications for the next 5 years increased from 9% to 13%.
Where people are looking for a new role
The number of people saying they would look for a new role just within the charity sector dropped slightly to 36% while the number saying they'd search outside the sector rose to 8% (from 5% in 2021).
The numbers preferring to work in-house, agency or freelance have not changed since last year with 91% saying they would prefer any new role to be in-house, just over 2% saying agency and 6.6% saying freelance.
Although dropping slightly on last year, environment / conservation remained the top sector people would like to work for, with 49% mentioning it. Human rights and health followed closely at 47% and children-related charities at 44%.
"I would look for an organisation that is properly resourced with clearly-defined roles and responsibilities."
- Digital manager, working remotely at a large charity
Sector specific jobs board remain the top method of finding a new role, increasing to just over 82%. LinkedIn has continued it's steady climb as a preferred method of looking for a job - the number citing it as a source increased from 64% to 75%.
Those using recruitment consultancies also increased slightly from 33% to 37%. Interestingly, several people also mentioned that they would check the website of charities or organisations they were interested in working for. A possible incentive for charities to make sure their jobs section is clear and up to date!
Expectations for future working
The expectation that a future role would include the option to work from home continues to show an increase, with 97% saying that they would expect flexible conditions as part of a future job.
Similar to previous years, the most motivating factor for wanting to change jobs is again higher salary at 14%. Better culture, a more interesting role and better work/life balance all follow close behind at around 10%. As during any time of change, the workplace is continuing to adjust, with some taking flexible working as a given and others moving back towards business as usual.
"Remote work is getting hard to find. Between February and October 2022, remote job listings fell from 20% to 14% of all listings on LinkedIn."
The private sector has long been able to better renumerate staff and offer impressive benefits but has previously lacked any tangible social impact, so people who truly want to make a difference through their work were more often drawn to the third sector.
There are currently around 1,100 B-Corp companies registered in the UK and commercial enterprises are increasingly proving their ethical credentials - and increasingly keen to hire charity talent. The commercial sector is becoming an increasingly attractive place to work and this trend is something we can expect to see continue.
With data from the Office of National Statistics indicating that employees continue to hold power within the labour market, organisations need to make sure they are not only meeting expectations of their current staff, but future-proofing their structure, ways of working and culture to attract new talent to their causes.
- 73% believe their current role is helping them to progress their long-term career.
- 97% would expect flexible conditions as part of a future job.
- 82% of people use sector specific jobs boards to find a new role.
- Increasing from 64% last year, 75% say they use LinkedIn for their job search.
Training and upskilling
- The skills toolkit – free courses to help you learn new skills or get a new job.
- Having confidence and courage to find your work superpowers
Tips for more effective recruitment
- The AMA Guide to Marketing Job Descriptions and Skills - job description templates for key marketing roles, supporting the need to match skills with both expectations and pay.
- How UK Charities Recruit - report from CharityJob on how charities currently recruit their paid staff and the steps they take to try to ensure fairness in their recruitment.
- Recruitment processes are broken - it’s time to change the system.
Looking for a new direction
- Finding your spark - how to get a job during Covid-19.
- How to change career path - tips and advice from the sector.
- Making words work for you when you’re applying for a job
- Ten top tips for online job interviews
- RoleShare - helping people find jobs as a job share.
- Charity People
- ThirdSector jobs
Key takeaways and conclusions
Ongoing issues around recruitment and retention are being exacerbated by financial difficulties, all of which threaten the ability of the charity sector to meet current demand for services, never mind being able to weather whatever future challenges may lie ahead.
"Unfortunately, the charities that do not adapt will find themselves left behind and struggling to survive - let alone meet the needs of the people or the cause they serve."
- Head of department, working across multiple areas at a medium-sized charity in the South East
Yes, people have a tendency to work in the charity sector because they want to feel a sense of purpose, they love what they do and they feel they are working to create change. They also need to feel valued, appreciated for the work that they do, and that they are developing and growing in their role.
As Martin Baker, chief executive of the Charity Learning Consortium, said in ThirdSector, "when people move to different charities, they bring those skills with them. This not only benefits the organisation, but also their colleagues and the beneficiaries of the charity too."
"If we don't invest in our people, it might lead to the downfall of our sector. A skilled workforce is a powerful one."
- Martin Baker, chief executive of the Charity Learning Consortium, speaking in ThirdSector
Our survey shows that while higher salary remains the number one temptation for people to change roles, it's actually dropped in overall numbers as a motivating factor since 2019.
Transparency has also been a key factor in this year's survey, from being upfront at the start about what pay a role is offering, to the need for open and honest conversations about mental health and wellbeing. It's ok to say that we don't have all the answers right now, but that we're working towards improving how we work and what we offer.
Methodology and additional data tables
The Salary and Organisational Culture Survey is a quantitative descriptive analysis which aims to review the salary levels and workplace culture of those working in marketing and communications within the charity and non-profit sector.
An online, self-administered questionnaire was created to collect information around this topic. The questionnaire was based on the previous CharityComms salary and organisational culture surveys, in order to allow comparisons between different years. Questions are included and/or amended each year to explore the changes in the job market and work practises.
Sampling and data collection
The population of interest for this survey were people working in marketing and communications at charities in the UK. Since the sample frame with details of all those individuals is unknown, a snowball sampling was applied. Participants were invited via email and social media either to fill in the questionnaire or share it. The invitation was sent to the CharityComms members database and was shared with different networks and coalitions of charities across the country.
Data was collected between 6 December 2022 and 4 January 2023. In order to filter-out respondents who did not meet the inclusion criteria, we added the following question at the beginning of the survey: Do you work in communications in the charity/third sector? A total of 790 individuals participated in the survey. Respondents who responded to say that they did not work in charity communications were removed from the database.
The final sample was composed of 657 cases with the following characteristics:
Rather not to say 0.8%
London/Greater London 41.73%
South East 13.58%
South West 10.15%
North West 6.22%
North East 2.13%
Northern Ireland 0.33%
Head of 14.33%
Senior Manager 9.12%
Senior Executive/Senior Officer 11.56%
Before data analysis, all responses were anonymised to keep confidentiality. Then, a descriptive analysis was performed, to identify variables of interest for. After that, a more focused univariate analysis was conducted and, in some specific cases, bivariate analysis was performed in order to explore relations among two or more variables of interest.
Get in touch
If you have any questions about the survey please email Sarah.
*Please note: there may be anomalies in the data in some categories, as sometimes there are not always enough responses for an accurate result.
Additional data tables
82% of people described their gender identity as female, with 15.7 saying male and 1.3% identifying as non-binary.
Organisation type, size and sector
Health remains the cause that most respondents work in at 21%, followed by children-related causes at 9.8%, environment / conservation at 7.1%, and disability and international aid both at 6.2%.
Working hours and types of contract
After a slight dip last year, the number of those working full-time increased slightly to 82%, but not was quite up to the 2019 rate of 89%.
The number of people in a permanent role was back up above 2019 levels at just over 90%. Those working freelance saw a dip to just over 2% (from 3.3% in 2021). Perhaps another indicator that people are looking for more financial stability after a period of uncertainty.