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Salary and Organisational Culture Report

It’s time to reveal the results of the 2019 CharityComms Salary and Organisational Culture Survey and see what you really think of the sector.

Stacey Kelly-Maher

Stacey Kelly-Maher


Stacey is CharityComms’ former digital projects officer and previously worked in digital for the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH). When not attached to technology, she consults on mental health research, policy and campaigning.

Executive summary

Data can tell stories, and the evidence presented in this report tells two major ones. The story of charity communications’ ongoing professionalisation, but also the story of a sector with systemic issues affecting organisational culture, particularly around wellbeing and representation.

Supporting the first narrative is the fact that over half of charity communicators feel communications has been more valued over the past year with more respondents feeling their current role is helping to progress their long-term career (74%, up from 71% in 2017). This is then backed up by additional data from the CharityComms’ jobs board which indicates a 20% increase in the number of jobs advertised with 41% of survey respondents believing staff levels in their organisation will increase over the next year and 40% believing they will stay the same.

There have been gradual increases in the average charity communicator’s salary, having risen £1,650 over the past five years, though this varies between seniority levels with this year’s increases largely driven by increases at more senior levels. It appears the sector is making progress around certain pay gaps with salary survey data showing large organisations pay 22% more than small organisations but this is down from 28% previously. Further, permanent staff earn 6% more than temporary, down from 15%, and salaries in London are 14% higher than the rest of the UK, down from 17%. The diminishing inconsistencies across organisation size, employment type and location are certainly progress, however the picture of other disparities is becoming clearer.

When it comes to the story of systematic issues perhaps the most compelling data is that which shows a white man in charity communications is paid £39,970, while a woman of colour is paid £34,750. While the sector is 93% white, it is also 78% female thus predominantly populated by white women. Furthermore, the difference in experiences of women of colour compared to their white counterparts are also clearly demonstrable. A woman of colour is 44% more likely to have experienced harassment than a white woman. She is 133% more likely to feel her mental health is negatively affected by her role. In this context, it is understandable that she is 92% more likely to look specifically outside of the charity sector when next job hunting.

So what is the bigger picture behind what all this data is telling us. Well we are making incremental gains while addressing these issues at a tactical level. For instance, we know that an increase in salaries across the sector will benefit diversity initiatives as those who are marginalised are less likely to be excluded through pay alone. But we need to ensure we are addressing this strategically and structurally. How can we imagine not only a sector that recognises the talent and expertise involved in communications, but that values talent and expertise from every communicator?

This report could never hope to solve all of this, but hopefully the data will help us all to see that we do not exist in isolation, we live and work in a wider societal context and we are not immune to the issues at play in the rest of the world. We must recognise that if we are truly mission oriented, we are then incredibly well placed to envision a sector which champions best practice in organisational culture and representation.

Don’t just take our word for it though, dive in and explore the data for yourself and see just how much 2019’s salary and organisational survey has to tell us about the sector as a whole.

A word from our CEO…


Adeela Warley

Adeela Warley

CEO, CharityComms

A warm welcome to CharityComms Salary and Organisational Culture Report 2019.

This year we widened the scope of the research survey to include important topical issues which have a direct impact on communications careers – from representation to harassment in the workplace and mental health. A huge thank you to everyone who filled it in – we had an incredible 668 responses providing a wealth of data.

For the first time, we’ve made it a digital first production with interactive data visualisation, so please do investigate as much as you like and let us know if you want to know more.

Overall the picture is mixed, with modest progress on pay and benefits and the status of communications but alarming data on diversity, equality and inclusion. Scientists recently told us being optimistic could help us live longer, happier lives. But true optimism is not just about a disposition to be cheerful, it’s about optimising the possibility for good. So let’s look the facts in the face and commit to working together to make our sector a great place to work.

You can use the report to benchmark your communications career or invest in your team. We’ve included lots of links to organisations leading the way and some of the best practice tools and training out there so that you too can be an optimistic change-maker.


Section 1

Sector salaries

Most people do not join the non-profit sector for the money. There is an evident mismatch of pay for charity roles compared to private sector ones and a great many organisations rely, at least in part, on volunteers. Yet the data we collected indicates that the increasing professionalisation of the wider sector, and the communications discipline in particular, has correlated with increases in salaries.

It is crucial to maintain our values beyond those that are monetary, however it is increasingly recognised that it is not only passion, but expertise, that charity communications professionals offer. Even aside from skillsets, there are bills to pay and philanthropy is no longer solely the realm of the privileged few. The worth we recognise in our teams must be rewarded if we wish to keep moving forward. 

Salaries at a glance

  • Large organisations pay 22% more than small organisations (down from 28% in 2017).
  • Permanent staff earn 6% more than temporary (down from 15% in 2017).
  • Salaries in London are 14% higher than the rest of the UK (down from 17% in 2017).
  • In 2017, animal charities paid the highest average salary but this year they’ve moved down to the second spot, having been overtaken by children’s charities.
  • The least well-paid sub-sector is hospices.

So what’s happening to comms salaries?

Over the past six years, there has been a gradual increase in charity communications salaries. Throughout this time, there have been fluctuations in the average pay at the levels of Head of and Director. The reason for this remains unclear but it is worth noting the smaller sample sizes at this end of the spectrum.

In terms of the last two years specifically though it is worth noting the average salary has gone up by 1.76% since 2017. This is largely driven by increases at the level of Manager/Lead (2%) and Head Of (6%). At all other levels, there have been dips in salary however half of the survey responses were from Managers/Leads or Heads of, hence the overall nudge.

Larger organisations pay more

So what does this all tell us about salaries? In a nutshell organisational size has a significant impact on salary with larger organisations consistently paying more at each seniority level.

Salary changes

Though there is some difference in how charity communicators perceive sector salaries to have changed in the past year, over half (59%) believe they have stayed the same, around a third (32%) believe they have increased, and only 9% believe they have decreased.

We asked why this might be and clear themes emerged from each group’s take on the impacting factors.

Section 2

Value of communications

Understanding the true value of communications, what it means for an organisation’s future, and how many resources it might require has long been debated. Over a century before charity communications existed in the way it does today, American retailer John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Given the ongoing issues in quantifying the value of comms, particularly in a charity context where there is a heightened need to prove the worth of spending, it is key to understand how the discipline is perceived.

The results of this year’s survey indicate over half of charity communicators feel communications has been more valued over the past year. But over a third still feel its status has remained the same while slightly more people feel communications is less valued than when last asked in 2017.

Case study: Autistica, the UK’s autism research charity

Rebecca Sterry

Rebecca Sterry

Head of Communications at Autistica

I joined Autistica just over four years ago and before that the charity had a combined fundraising and communications lead – needless to say that as a small charity, fundraising always came first. Now we have a small team, having proved the value of communications to every area of the charity to both staff and trustees.

There are three valued roles that the communications team play at Autistica:

  • Telling stories

    As a research charity, telling stories is essential to bring our science back to real people’s lives. The people that feature on our website and in campaigns are valued and stewarded as much as any donor and they are at the forefront every time we talk about our work. The team know that the comms team’s investment in these are crucial to their fundraising and policy work.

  • Showing impact

    We’re a fast-paced innovative organisation so having a communications team that can work across departments to report on the many things that we are doing is essential. It’s a unique skill to have that overview and ability to distil key information down into formats that work for each audience. It gives the team the content they need to roll out regular, personalised updates to key stakeholders. With the comms team focusing content on impact, our tone of voice for fundraising has evolved, talking less about the problem and more about the solution, it’s proving to be really effective.

  • Acting on insights

    Last year we invested in audience insight work, looking at our email subscribers, social media audiences and donor database. The focus of this was our communications strategy but these insights have already begun to show real value to all areas of the charity. It is helping us to devise our organisational strategy and fundraising campaigns, and has a knock on effect on how we talk about our research and policy work. Every email we now send – no matter what department it originates from, is tailored to the behaviour and interests of the individual, something that just six months ago was impossible. Engagement and donations as a result are at an all-time high.

The closer teams work with communications staff, the more they will realise their value. We’ve initiated a drop in comms session every Wednesday so that people can tell us what they are up to, and in return we can help add value. It’s win-win.

We know, however, that comms staff are always working hard to prove the value of their work. Indeed, only 10% of charity communicators don’t work more than their standard contracted hours and 46% don’t receive compensation for extra hours worked. If staff continue to feel undervalued, there is potential to impact on their long-term career. Those that feel communications is becoming less valued are 174% more likely to change jobs in the next six months than those who think it has become more valued in the last year. The effects are myriad; they’re also 74% more likely to feel their role is negatively impacting their mental health and 93% more likely to think they won’t stay in charity communications for the next five years.

How do we value comms as an industry?

While the data indicates an increasing value ascribed to comms it appears this is not the case in practice. Looking at the figures from 2017, 38% of charity communicators identified a lack of understanding of the role of comms by others in the organisation as a barrier to achieving their goals and 28% said comms still hadn’t got a seat in the boardroom.

This year’s data suggests a trend towards more value being attributed to comms but while we take a holistic perspective, we must also consider the individual circumstances of charity communicators which vary largely according to organisation size, seniority level, location, board composition and more:

Some of the responses given for how people think comms is valued in their organisation:

“I think we’ve seen the increasing professionalisation of communications as a discipline – and increasing respect given to communicators as professionals – over the last few years. Which is very welcome!” (Manager/Lead)

“There seems to be a devaluation of the role of communications in charities right now – right now, I feel as though we are being treated as a part of the furniture.” (Head Of)

“The role and status of marcomms seems to be entirely dependent on the kind of leadership team in place, their background and their understanding of its importance.” (Manager/Lead)

“I think there is a severe lack of understanding around what communicators and marketers do, and how our work can have lasting impact and value to an organisation. There’s still the view that comms isn’t a profession and that everyone can do it […]” (Head Of)

“Communications and marketing are not seen as being essential, well thought-out or central to strategy of the company. Until there is a comms/marketing person sitting at the directors’ table and on the board then charities will continue to make basic mistakes with their communications and marketing strategies that will lead to much bigger and costly mistakes overall.” (Head Of)

What does this all mean? 

Well worryingly, over a quarter of respondents considered cross-team communication in their organisation to be ineffective or very ineffective which is clearly not a good thing.

So what does the sector need to do to change things for the better?

Why not begin by checking out some of the great resources out there to get you started. Here are a few which might just help your organisation understand the value of communications:

Section 3


When someone spends around 40 hours a week in an environment, dedicated to a particular cause and/or organisation, it is vital they feel valued to ensure their loyalty and best work. The way you treat your employees can increase retention and differentiate your employer brand in the hiring market.

This doesn’t need to be Google-style perks with table tennis and nap pods (though no-one’s arguing against it), but it is about providing a solid benefits package that allows your workforce to thrive. What if we moved to a model of the charity sector where organisations helped with loan repayments and tuition assistance? Or a carer-friendly atmosphere with parental leave including adoption, extended (or unlimited) annual leave and childcare subsidies where people don’t feel as though they’re choosing between their families and jobs?

Whether you’re thinking blue-sky, or making incremental gains, in our (entirely unbiased) opinion, the third sector is the place to be, and this is one of the key areas where we can demonstrate this, not to mention improve the wellbeing and performance of our teams.

Some standard benefits at a glance:

  1. Average holidays: 26 days
  2. Bonus: 14%
  3. Commission: 1%
  4. Paid overtime/time off in lieu: 78% 

Which benefits do people rate most highly?

It is worth noting that when it comes to paid holidays there are statutory requirements which can be calculated by multiplying the number of days you work a week by 5.6. So if you work five days a week, you’re entitled to 28 days, or if you work three days a week, you’re entitled to 16.8 days.

More holiday time would be taken into consideration by 80% of workers when choosing between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job with better benefits. This remains a core area for employer differentiation where only 1-2% of employers offer unlimited vacation time, and could also potentially avoid employer liability issues around paying out unused leave days when employees leave the organisation. Not to mention the potential benefits around mental health in the workplace in a context where 70m work days are lost annually for mental health related reasons, costing employers circa £2.4bn each year.

Meanwhile, the proportion of charity communicators receiving bonuses or commissions remains small. Performance-related pay remains contentious while money spent on staff salaries is still a barrier to public trust and giving, though this is certainly a transparency issue as well as one significantly discussed at more senior levels.

What our survey indicates is a mismatch between the benefits most desired by charity communicators and what they are being offered. For example note the disparity in some cases (eg medical cover) between what staff most want, and what they actually receive. This is also evident in the fact that 90% of respondents indicated flexible working hours as one of their top three most valued benefits, yet only 72% received this. In this case yes the proportion of staff getting what they want has grown, as in 2017 only 61% received flexible working hours, but it is still a disparity nonetheless.

One thing that is certainly clear from the data though is that while no-one knows what the future of work will look like, flexibility remains a core priority. Two thirds (67%, up from 61% in 2017) of respondents said being able to work from home would entice them into applying for a job.

It is always worth looking at what you are offering your team from the perspective of talent recruitment and retention, but it goes beyond this. For example, the number of respondents receiving a pension contribution is somewhat worrying, despite seeming high at 85%. Under the Pensions Act 2008, employers are legally obligated to enrol certain staff into a workplace pension scheme and since 6 April 2019, employers must contribute a minimum of 3%.

Even outside of legal obligations, are you offering benefits or aware of what should be a given? Only 51% of charity communicators receive support for professional development for example, but if you intend to keep your staff they need to feel valued and as though they are able to grow in the organisation. From a purely selfish perspective, regardless of their needs, if you do not invest in your staff’s development then it does not matter how brilliant the people you’re recruiting are, it will be increasingly difficult for them to keep up with sector trends and the latest techniques in their discipline.

If we take the case of one particular discipline, only 44% of respondents working in digital receive development support but it is abundantly clear how fast charity digital is progressing. NCVO’s latest research found more than a third of employers consider their staff to be missing key digital skills. Without some kind of knowledge exchange, it is doubtful that staff will be able to keep up with analytics, organic and paid social media, search engine optimisation, user experience best practice etc – let alone move into the realm of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies which will offer a great many opportunities in communications and beyond. The Charity Digital Skills Report 2019 found more than a third of respondents to be unsure if they’ll stay in their role long-term if the way their charity uses digital doesn’t improve. While funding is a core concern, the return on investment does need to be considered carefully. Not giving your staff the resources they need will contribute to lost talent, missed opportunities and long-term stagnation.

Seb Baird, digital manager at Time to Change is just one of many charity communicators that has had first-hand experience of how important training and development is for his team and digital charity professionals as a whole.

He said: “Training and development is so important for digital charity professionals. As the charity sector lags behind in digital skills, it’s hard to develop our knowledge and practices internally, so we often need external support to do so. Training helps us to build our careers and make us employable, but it’s also fundamentally important to helping us do our jobs well: the digital landscape changes so quickly that keeping our skills sharp can be more challenging than in other roles.”

“These opportunities don’t always have to be expensive – mentoring, peer learning and meetups can help as much as formal training – but charity leaders should be making time, and where possible, money, available to develop their digital staff.” – Seb Baird

It is unsurprising then that support for professional development came in the top three most desired benefits. For those looking to offer more chances for professional development, find out more about the mentoringevents and resources that CharityComms offers.

It is crucial for the sector’s survival that we do not become complacent around salaries and benefits. While a feeling of pride around doing important work is always welcome, so is being able to pay bills, be healthy, provide for and spend time with loved ones.

 “Charities are happy to pay below the average salary because they believe their staff feel that working for a charity is a benefit in itself.” (Senior Executive/Officer)

Remember: The cause is important but so are the individual circumstances of our teams, and if we go by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the charity sector will (arguably continue to) haemorrhage its best people, purely so they can exist.

Section 4

Career progress

As the sector has become further professionalised, it has become increasingly recognised that charity work is not simply a feel-good pastime, but a highly-skilled specialism requiring adapted training and knowledge. It may be a calling, but it is also a career and people will move on if they are not happy or feel they would only have room to grow if they went elsewhere.

This has resulted in an increasingly competitive job market with certain roles experiencing particularly high demand. The great news though is we live in a time with resources aplenty and we work in a sector filled with people who go out of their way to support each other in their day-to-day work and future careers. Make sure you understand the community available to you and your team and make the most of it!

What’s your background?

This year we asked about how long people have worked in their current organisation, as a communications professional and/or in the charity sector so that whether you’re looking to hire a new team member or trying to find your first job in charity communications, you can understand the context of where the sector and its staff are at.

How charity communicators are feeling?

While the majority working in charity communications feel they are progressing, a quarter (26%) feel their current role is not helping to progress their long-term career. This is down from 29% previously but yet the amount of people being offered fewer training opportunities has increased (19% from 14%) and over half (55%) have not yet booked onto any training over the next 12 months.

Charities struggling to provide enough training and development opportunities may be interested to note the most common types of training currently being offered to staff are; conferences, seminars and training courses.

Those that were less frequently offered included shared learning and role-shadowing – a real shame considering the lack of cost involved! Why not identify an organisation you think is doing particularly well in your area of comms and ask if you can pop into their office for a day to see what they’re doing? Or grab lunch with someone higher up in your own organisation and ask them what they wish they’d known earlier? 

elearning resources to check out

It’s important to offer a variety of training types, but if you’re looking for something a little less formal, there are some amazing digital learning spaces around in the age of eLearning:

Job satisfaction

We found 37% were planning a career move in the next 12 months, while 47% had no current plans but would consider it for the right role. This is slightly lower than in previous years, suggesting some improvement in staff retention; in 2017, 39% were looking to move on, and in 2016, this stood at 41%. Long-term, 86% of respondents thought themselves likely to stay in charity communications for the next five years.

We also found 77% of marcomms professionals were happy in their current role, while 10% were indifferent and 13% were unhappy. The data also revealed that 32% said their mental health is positively impacted by their role, however this is the same proportion as are negatively impacted. Only 41% said they would look exclusively inside the charity sector if considering a change of job.

One of the potential factors impacting how happy someone is in their role could be the discipline in which they work. We took a look at how people feel their mental health is impacted by their role according to their job function, particularly due to the ongoing conversations around the impact of mental health in digital and social media roles.

We found charity communicators working in digital are 9% more likely to experience an adverse impact on their mental health than those in non-digital roles, however they’re not the only ones.

Top three disciplines for negatively impacted mental health (not including other):

  1. Publications
  2. Events
  3. Internal communications tied with Public affairs/ policy/ advocacy

Top three disciplines for positively impacted mental health (not including other):

  1. Brand management
  2. PR/ press/ media relations
  3. Campaigns


Salary was the most motivating factor in jobseeking by far, with 38% ranking it as the most important and 74% placing it in the top three. In order, the factors that motivated people most were:

  1. Higher salary
  2. More interesting role
  3. More responsibility/ seniority
  4. Better work/ life balance
  5. Better culture
  6. More attractive cause/ mission
  7. Better job security
  8. Training/ development opportunities

“Very limited increases in pay are currently making me consider leaving a charity that I enjoy working for, and that’s hard to deal with.” (Manager/Lead)

Most well-paid sub-sectors:

  • Children
  • Animals
  • Disability

Most appealing sub-sectors:

  • Environment
  • Health
  • Human rights

In terms of how people like to work the data showed that while most charity communicators would prefer to be in-house, 5% would prefer to be at an agency and 6% would like to be freelance. A number of questions around current freelance work were also included in the survey however the sample size was not sufficient to provide representative data.

Job searches

When searching for a new role, respondents were most likely to look at LinkedIn, recruitment consultancies and sector-specific job boards.

This year, to better understand what opportunities are available to people working in the sector, we also included an analysis of data from the CharityComms’ jobs board in this survey. Using this we can see that there has been a 20% increase in the number of jobs posted annually.

However, the number of jobs available varies widely according to seniority level with the number of jobs available at Assistant, Head Of and Director level comprising the smallest proportion. This potentially signposts potential issues with entering and progressing in the sector. Additionally, the average pay between Senior Executive/Officer and Manager/Lead only appears to increase by 5% which raises questions around the relationship between pay and responsibilities.

Other disparities in pay that are evident from the data include the “part-time penalty”- which appears to be in full effect in jobs advertised with a 22% mean pay gap (compared to a 6% gap for respondents of the survey) – and  a noticable difference between pay in London and the rest of the UK which stood at 14% for survey respondents and 18% in advertised jobs.

Most advertised specialisms in numbers:

  • Digital/online/social media
  • Communications
  • Marketing

Average number of marcomms staff in a team: 24

What do charity communicators value?

Section 5


The data we have collected adds to the body of existing evidence demonstrating the third sector’s diversity problem. Quite simply our workforce doesn’t represent the demographics of the UK, never mind the communities with which we work. This is a recurring issue seen across recruitment, salaries, progression and retention.

As it stands, by failing on diversity we are effectively ignoring vital context for our charities and campaigns. What would it mean to reframe the conversation about international aid to consider the legacy of colonialism? How might our communications reinforce stereotypes to the extent that they actively undo the work being done? Communications will always represent the historical and cultural context in which they were produced. They also have an impact on how our donors identify with our charities, evaluate our offer and intend to give.

It is a structural problem which needs to be addressed institutionally, not only in terms of diversity and inclusion, but also when it comes to anti-racism, anti-every-ism. Our teams’ composition did not happen by accident and it will not change by accident. Lead from the top with policies at the most senior levels, and don’t pigeonhole the affected groups to do all of the work. As a sector we need to be working on this while understanding the power dynamics involved and taking collective responsibility for championing holistic, strategic approaches.

Demographic effects on pay gaps

*Please note: A number of respondents identified as non-binary, however their data has not been included in gendered analysis because the sample size was not sufficient to provide representative data.

The average gender pay gap for charity marcomms professionals is now at 11%, down from 14% in 2017, but still up from 9% in 2016. Additionally, the national median pay gap is 9.6%, while for charity communicators, we found a median pay gap of 11.4%.

Men are often more represented in senior, higher paying roles. This is evident in the fact that while more than 60% of charity workers are female, 71% of chief executives at the largest charities are male. The gender pay gap provides us with an indication of the difference between salaries for men and women, but it does not address equal pay, and whether women are paid less for the same role. However, even when broken down by job level, our data shows women are paid less than men at each and every level. 

Furthermore, although very few respondents receive bonuses, the gap between men and women’s likelihood to receive a bonus has also changed. In 2017, 8% of men and 4% of women received a bonus. This year, 6% of men and 7% of women received a bonus.

So what is being done to address these pay discrepancies? Well, reporting the gender pay gap, gender bonus gap, the proportion of men and women receiving bonuses, and the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure is now required by law for all charities with 250 or more employees. Additionally there has also been a recent consultation around ethnicity pay reporting and feedback is currently being analysed to inform future government policy.

Let's break it down:

  • 93% of charity communicators are white 
  • People of colour are 53% more likely to look outside of the third sector for their next role 
  • People of colour are 39% more likely to have experienced workplace harassment 
  • 7% of charity communicators are disabled 
  • 68% believe disabled people are either under-represented or not represented in their charity 
  • 92% of charity communicators are educated to degree level or higher, 25% hold a master’s degree 

Who is representing the sector?

For the first time this year, we included a question around ethnicity using the ONS options however when broken down to this level, there were not enough data points to analyse unequal pay in the same way, particularly when looking at race and gender together.

In total 93% of respondents who specified their ethnicity identified as white, which is perhaps indicative of the ongoing representation problem in a sector where 92% of trustees are white. Additionally, 70% of respondents believed people of colour were either under-represented or not represented in their charity. Clearly this is not an issue that has escaped the attention of the wider sector community as demonstrated by the fact that a number of assurances have already been made around changing this, for instance, ACEVO has committed to 40% of its staff and trustees being people of colour by 2024.

It should be noted that this lack of representation appears to be a persistent issue and was seen across multiple areas with only 7% of respondents identifying as disabled, and only 3% of disabled respondents being people of colour. In addition to this 68% of respondents believed disabled people were either under-represented or not represented in their charity. It is worth noting here that 18.6% of working-age people in the UK are disabled showing just how big this gap in representation really is.

Work is being done to make these diversity issues, particularly around disability, more visible though. Last year, the government published a framework encouraging organisations with more than 250 employees to voluntarily report around disability in the workplace. Meanwhile following their advocacy work in this area, Scope published a Disability and Wellbeing Report noting 17% of their employees identify as disabled, up 3% on 2017. Helpfully the report also outlined a number of tactics to improve upon this baseline, including research into the experience of disabled people working and volunteering at Scope, data around length of time worked there and proportion of those promoted who are disabled. Clearly this is a great starting point but we must all work to understand the experiences of disabled staff and how to make charity communications more inclusive and accessible.

Overall though clearly there remain a number of barriers to entry to the sector which disproportionately affect certain groups. For example 92% of charity communicators are educated to degree level or higher, with 25% holding a master’s degree, and this tendency to hire graduates not only prevents those who can’t afford university from joining the sector, but it undermines the value of lived experience, as referenced in the National Children Bureau and Children England’s Open To All campaign. Many have identified the issue of unnecessary qualifications being specified in job descriptions, and there is a question over as a sector, are we doing enough to say #NonGraduatesWelcome? Issues like requiring degrees, providing unpaid internships, and not paying a living wage ensures that it remains a privilege to be able to enter the charity sector and for marginalised groups, there are quite enough barriers to entry already.


It is not enough to recruit diverse candidates if they are marginalised when in the role and part of the wider sector. This is indicated by our data which shows people of colour were 40% more likely to be unhappy in their role than white people, 15% more likely to be planning a career move in the next 12 months and 53% more likely to look specifically outside of the third sector when they’re next considering a change of job. We are holding people back and losing talent

When it came to women of colour the issue of retention was particularly clear – they were 92% more likely to look elsewhere compared to white women. While we didn’t explore the many potential contributing factors (hypervisibility, biased evaluations, harassment, the list goes on), we must ask ourselves, does this indicate a comfortable working environment?


More generally 5% of those surveyed said their current charity does not have policies and procedures around harassment and 7% believe the policies and procedures in place to protect people from harassment are being implemented ineffectively.

Again, this all compounds with race and gender. People of colour are 39% more likely to have experienced workplace harassment. Women of colour are 315% more likely than white men to identify harassment policies as being implemented ineffectively. The Harvard Business Review’s Zuhairah Washington and Professor Laura Morgan Roberts recommend mandatory exit interviews to provide insight into the issues in your workplace and help you to identify the key areas where you can make change.

“Not only is it harder for charities to attract people of colour, but they are more likely to be unhappy in their roles, and to look outside of the sector for their next job. We cannot afford to lose talent like this” – Zoe Amar

Zoe Amar, founder and director of Zoe Amar Digital said the fact is that “the sector is facing a double whammy”. She said: “Not only is it harder for charities to attract people of colour, but they are more likely to be unhappy in their roles, and to look outside of the sector for their next job. We cannot afford to lose talent like this. I would like to see charity leaders setting public targets for improving diversity, using blind recruitment processes and ensuring that job descriptions make diversity is a priority. And above all, they need to ask people of colour how they can support them. If our charities welcome everyone then they will flourish.”

Section 6

What happens now? Next steps

The data presented in this report ranges from promising to distressing but one thing that unites it all is how actionable it is. People in general, let alone charity communicators specifically, are already in danger of compassion fatigue because of the times we live in but we must not become numb to or disconnected from the work that needs to be done and the emotions that come with it.

While compiling these figures, we became increasingly aware of how demoralising some of this can be so we want to emphasise everything you and your team can do to impact the future of charity communications careers.

So, what next? Here are steps you can take right now…

…as an individual:

  1. Benchmark your salary according to our data
  2. Look after your mental health and prioritise your wellbeing
  3. Be open about your pay! Your coworkers may well be earning less than you for equivalent work and you can help them identify this
  4. Volunteer to analyse and categorise #CharitySoWhite posts and report trolls
  5. Join Third Sector PR & Comms Network to keep up to date with topical sector conversations
  6. Read through evidence, opportunities and resources available on the #POCIMPACT Directory
  7. Identify areas for training and development for your future career with current job descriptions
  8. Book onto one of Fearless Future’s training programmes addressing power and privilege (some are pro bono!)
  9. Get tips, ideas and inspirations from your peers’ careers advice
  10. Donate to Campaign Bootcamp to support people to lead the campaigns that affect them

…as a sector leader:

  1. Talk to your trustees about comms and send them resources to help them understand
  2. Understand and address mental health in charity communications teams
  3. Become a mentor
  4. Commit to ACEVO’s eight principles to address the diversity deficit in charity leadership
  5. Use and share NEON’s campaigning toolkit
  6. Reflect candidly and publicly as a leadership team with #CharitySoWhite’s questions
  7. Look at free training and development opportunities for your team
  8. Ensure your charity has policies and procedures around harassment and that they’re being implemented effectively
  9. Listen to ACEVO’s Leadership Worth Sharing podcast
  10. Read the Institute of Fundraising’s Manifesto for Change and join the Change Collective

…as a recruiter:

  1. Assess the level of pay you are advertising to see if it is in line with benchmarks for the relevant responsibility level
  2. Remove unnecessary qualifications from your job descriptions #NonGraduatesWelcome
  3. Look through standard job descriptions to ensure the seniority of roles is equivalent to the demands of the roles
  4. Read Krislyn Tan’s practical steps towards a more diverse team
  5. Do not advertise your role’s salary as “competitive”, transparency is always best and we don’t know who you can compete with!
  6. Don’t offer unpaid internships
  7. Consider guaranteeing interviews to candidates from under-represented backgrounds who meet essential criteria
  8. Review your flexible working practices
  9. Look through the language in your job descriptions and see how you can make your applications process more welcoming and accessible
  10. Publish gendered and racialised pay gap data, whether you’re legally required to or not

Taking positive action

Let’s take one specific area to focus on – recruitment as this is where the journey to being a charity communications professional starts.

When looking at recruitment specifically, there are various examples of practical steps to encourage more diverse applications and improve team diversity:

  • “Our pay is transparent and non-negotiable. However, we are a flexible employer and offer a range of non-financial benefits to employees.” – Reprieve
  • “Applications for this job are sought from anyone who is suitably qualified and experienced for the role but particularly welcome from those with a diagnosis of autism.” – National Autistic Society
  • “We are happy to consider flexible working, which may include arrangements such as part-time working, formalised flexitime, fixed (non-standard) working hours, working from home and job-sharing.” – Citizens Advice
  • “We are an equal opportunities employer and are firmly committed to recruiting, retaining and developing the best available talent.” – In Kind Direct
  • “If you have difficulty accessing or using this version of the application form or need to apply with a CV, please contact before applying.” – Beat
  • “Leonard Cheshire welcomes applications from all sections of the community. We actively encourage applications from disabled people, supporting where possible, your requirements for reasonable adjustments.” – Leonard Cheshire
  • “We are striving to represent the diverse communities that we are a part of. All candidates will be treated on the basis of their merits, skills and abilities and solely by being assessed against the requirements for the job. Many of our vacancies can be considered for people who wish to work flexibly, job share or part time.” – Canal and River Trust
  • “We have a track record of hiring for attitude and training for skill. So if you lack the skills but feel like you share our values and have a burning desire to go on a steep learning curve, then apply for the role.” – Platypus Digital
  • “We need a Board that reflects and represents the people we support, the communities we work in and the voices we champion […] We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, experience and industries that can help us ensure we deliver the best service to all our diverse service users.” – Victim Support

Outside of recruitment alone, #POCIMPACT directory includes research evidencing the sector’s landscape, opportunities for people of colour, organisational training, support and resources.

Additionally, the Building Movement Project is currently developing an assessment tool taking an intersectional approach to how organisational culture impacts diversity.

Clearly there is already some great work going on to improve things in the sector as a whole so lets embrace, celebrate and build on these efforts to keep striving for a charity sector we can all be even more proud of.

Section 7

Data Tables

Over the course of this report, we have collected more data than we could possibly hope to analyse in full but for the sake of transparency and in the hope that you’ll find as much use out of the data as possible, we’ve included a variety of data tables here for you to review.

These can be used to benchmark what salary you could or should be earning, to negotiate a pay rise for yourself or a member of your team, and to demonstrate the investment that should be being made in charity communications staff. You can filter all of these tables according to specific fields so you can see salaries according to individual sub-sectors, locations, organisation size etc. and find those most relevant to you.

Not everyone was able to provide data for every question so if one of these tables does not include data, then there were not enough respondents in this category to provide a reliable average. We are immensely grateful for any and all data provided for the overview of the sector that charity communicators have provided.

Salary by seniority compared to previous years

Salary by gender and seniority

Salary by contract type and seniority

Salary by hours worked and seniority

Salary by subsector and seniority

Salary by organisation size and seniority

Salary by location and seniority

Salary by discipline and seniority

*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. 


With each report on salaries and culture in charity communications, we aim to make the data as representative and precise as possible while ensuring insightful and actionable takeaways.

This is only doable because of the 668 charity communicators who contributed data about themselves and their roles, as well as those in previous years. These responses were used in conjunction with existing data from 829 roles advertised on the CharityComms’ jobs board between 25 May 2018 and 24 May 2019.

Survey responses came from the following role profiles:

  • 90% permanent
    1% temporary/ interim
    8% contract
    1% freelance
  • 88% full-time
    12% part-time
  • 2% CEO
    6% Director
    14% Head Of
    36% Manager/ Lead
    11% Senior Exec./ Off.
    28% Exec./ Off.
    3% Assistant

Where a quote has been provided, the person in question’s seniority level is included in brackets so you can understand a little of the context they’re working in. At each stage it is worth remembering that these are not purely numbers, each data point represents a person and their lived experience.

There are also many more ways in which this data could be used so if you’re curious about a particular fact or figure that we haven’t included, please do get in touch!