Wednesday 11 November 2009

We need Woodley sized salaries!

My breakfast was immeasurably improved when I opened an email from one of the top charity accountants, Pesh Framjee. I reproduce it as part of my Defend Charities from Wicked Attacks campaign. He makes a great point.

" We need to understand this issue better. Many of the larger charities are complex businesses (and I use the word advisedly) and the staff who manage them have to be highly qualified in addition to being highly committed. The fact is that the there is much evidence to show that voluntary sector salaries, particularly at senior levels, are significantly lower than the salaries that many of these individuals could be earning in the private sector.

We want the charities we support to be well managed by experienced, committed individuals. They do not get special rates on their mortgages, on their supermarket bills or on their travel costs just because they work for a charity.

I work closely with many charities, some are the largest charities in the land and do not see that their "ethos is being eroded" simply because they try not to underpay their staff.

I support well run and well managed charities that are demonstrating that they are doing excellent work and I am not in any way put off that their staff are fairly paid to do this. I know that those criticised in this way would be earning much more in the private sector and comparisons with city pay demonstrates a lack of understanding about the facts. Indeed, many of those working in charities have given up pay packages which were significantly higher.

I would in fact like to see greater parity between pay scales in the voluntary sector and in other sectors. Please do not construe this as meaning that I am advocating city comparators but just because a person is working for a charity should not mean that they should earn a lot less than if they were working in another sector. "

It was a point I was making vigorously in an interview with BBC Humber. Poor interviewer found it difficult to get a word in as I defended our salaries and castigated our ill informed critics. Poor chap at the end thanked me for my " vigorous" defence. Indeed. But it's what I am paid for!

And as for one of the comments one my blog about " shouting loudest", well I certainly shall. There is every reason for our sector to be paid at the professional levels one expects in the other sectors as Pesh argues above. No one attacks my members without me shouting loudly. And when it is to attack the Puritan Hair Shirt brigade I do it with gusto.

There was a calming moment in the Office today as we paused to observe the Armistice two minutes silence and to watch the service from Westminster Abbey. ACEVO has many members in charities working with the armed services or in conflict situations. It was right to pause to Remember.

And so I had calmed down by lunch time; just as well as I was in the Atheneum with my old friend Sir Rodney Brooke (who is a Trustee on Capacity builders ) and the interim Chair, Stephen Dunmore. Rodney is a great connoisseur of wine and we had a stunning 2006 Meursault. All most agreeable. So right for a discussion of capacity building I thought- strong, developed and fine tasting! How umbrella organisations should be! Capacity building for our sector institutions is crucial. It must continue. It is such a shame we have rather mucked some of it up.

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