Idealism of the Charity Fat Cats

///Idealism of the Charity Fat Cats

Idealism of the Charity Fat Cats

A regular feature from our columnist Peter O’Pinion, taking his hand to dissecting charity bashing articles, both old and new, from the Daily Mail Online.

Straight to calculator

Whilst this topic isn’t a new one, it will surely rear its head again and the recent announcement of Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn’s £75m bonus payout. (

So, I went digging on the Daily Mail website to find a 2016 classic ( which is a wonderful embodiment of the “charity fat cat bosses”discourse.

In case you’re not keen on clicking a Daily Mail link, here’s the headline of this delightful article from Stephen Glover:

“Why I no longer give to charities whose bosses take home fat cat salaries.”

“Many charity bosses are no longer low-paid idealists who spend their lives working for one or two charities. They flit between the charitable and private sectors. And if they end up as chief executives of charities, they are likely to be paid amounts which some people will think obscene.” “Shouldn’t charity bosses be paid less than their counterparts in the private sector by virtue of the job they do?”

Whilst I realise there is an element of editorial sensationalism at play here, it’s still surprising how little regard for any degree of factual analysis Stephen Glover has when attacking the cornerstone of the short-lived Torie wet dream: “The Big Society.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a little bit of objective mirror gazing from time to time, just not blasting mis-guided lasers into mirrors that others are using.

Starting with the first quote. Stephen, you’re kidding no one. I don’t believe that you ever have or ever will give to charity, though I guess that depends whether you count political donations to UKIP. Given the appaling lack of research and insight in your article, it would strike me as characteristically incongruous that you would choose to do such diligent research on where your monthly philanthropic pennies should be spent.

Charity Bosses Should be Paid Less

Next, taking aim at his easily checkable assertion that charity bosses should earn less than their private sector counterparts. They do.

  • Bosses of the FTSE 100 receive an average annual pay award of £7.7m*
  • Bosses of the FTSE 250 receive an average annual pay award of £2.5m*
  • Bosses of the top 100 UK charities, by income, receive an average annual pay award of £187,900*

Now, I know what you’re thinking, hands dusted and move on to the next editorially irritating Daily Mail article. But, alas, no.

Ol’ Stephen has another trick up his sleeve, that charity bosses should be idealists. Why do they want such massive stacks of cash for doing good work, should good work not be its own reward? Let’s ignore how infantilising that particular narrative is for a moment and move on to the next point.

Where have all the idealists gone?

I was going to start by attacking the distinct lack of common sense in asking your Uncle Derick to consider running Save the Children (£1.5bn turnover / 24,000 employees / operates in 120 countries / CEO salary of £227,300 / currently employing the ex-Prime Minister of Denmark as their CEO) as he has a bit of time on his hands since retiring from the City and taking to pottering his country pile.

But then I realised that Stephen thinks he has us by the short and curlys, because what he is asking of charity CEO’s is so ethereal that he thinks there is no objective way for us to dispel his unscientific blathering. Hahahaha (insert appropriate maniacal laugh), how wrong he was…..

I present to you the (Patent Pending) Idealism Rating Formula.

If we accept the following facts:

Average Revenue

Average CEO Salary

FTSE 100



FTSE 250



Charities (Top 100)




We can see that Charity CEOs are taking home 97.6% less than their counterparts in the FTSE 100 and 89.6% less than their counterparts in the FTSE 250.

But we all know that Stephen isn’t convinced by such trivial things as comparative analysis, so why don’t we delve a little bit deeper using our friend and mine – pop science.

This is how the above salaries look as a percentage of turnover:

  • FTSE 100:                             0.04%*
  • FTSE 250:                             0.21%*
  • Top 100 Charities:              0.06%*

Surprisingly our good friends in the UK’s biggest companies are taking an altruistic 0.02% less than these fat cat charity bosses, though that is probably because even the folks over at GlaxoSmithKline would probably have to admit that paying their CEO a salary of £65 million (which is what it would be if using the FTSE 250 ratio) would be a little gratuitous.

In fact, if the charity sector were to match the 0.04% ration of the FTSE 100, charity bosses would pull an average salary of £116,800, which is still higher than the ‘ire benchmark’ of the Daily Mail.

All that being said, I think we need to combine the ratios of the FTSE 100 & 250 in order to get an average for the sector that the charity sector is competing with when it comes to talent.

This gives us a private sector ratio of 0.125% vs charity sector ratio of 0.06%.

If we assume that a large part of the idealism of charity sector leaders, and staff in general, is that they choose to work in a sector where the salaries are up to 97.6% lower in real terms, then it is also worth noting that the average private sector chief would expect to be paid £365,253 in the charity sector. Meaning charity bosses are paid 51.5% less in adjusted terms.

With that preamble out the way….. it’s time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

Charity avg. CEO pay = ©

Charity avg. revenue = £

(((FTSE 100 avg. CEO pay / FTSE 100 avg. revenue * 100) + (FTSE 250 avg. CEO pay / FTSE 250 avg revenue * 100) / 2)) = $

(© / ((£/100) * $)) * 100 = Idealism Rating

So, next time some pip squeak starts sounding off about overpaid charity staff at a dinner party, or your supporter care team receives a strongly worded email about something someone read in the tabloids – you be sure to send them the above. Because, I think we can all agree, that will put paid to the argument.

The way the rating works is simple, the higher the number the less idealistic charity bosses are. 0 = working for free, 100 = no idealism at all. It is possible to have an idealism rating higher than 100, but then you have to start asking some quite serious questions.

I’ve provided a handy calculator below so that you can work out the idealism rating of any Charity CEO you like. Go nuts!


*The figures have been calculated using my own original workings, please see the below for details. Each of the charity top 100, FTSE 250 and FTSE 100 were calculated using a sample of 10 organisations for each. These organisations were selected through the incredibly scientific method of picking them out of a hat. If you want to question my methods, I don’t blame you.

FTSE 250

  • Bovis Homes Group

CEOs Salary: 2.7m (

Revenue: 1.028 billion {

  • Britvic

CEOs salary 2.1m (

Revenue: 1.52 billion (

  • Dairy Crest

CEOs salary: 2.6m (

Revenue: 416m (

  • Games Workshop

CEOs Salary: 707k (

Revenue: 158m (

  • Man Group

CEOs salary: 4.74m (

Revenue: 813,8m (

  • Premier Oil

CEOs salary: 1.4m (

Revenue: 794m (

  • SIG plc

CEOs salary: 2.1m (

Revenue: 2.79 billion (

  • KAZ Minerals

CEOs Salary: 7.7m (

Revenue: 1.3 billion (

  • Grafton Group

CEO Salary: 1.52m (

Revenue: 2.36 billion (

  • PageGroup

CEO Salary: 2.85m (

Revenue 1.372 billion (

FTSE 250 Analysis

  • Total Revenues: £12,557,000,000
  • Total CEO Salaries: £25,717,00
  • Average CEO Salary: £2,,571,700
  • Average Revenue: £1,255,700,000
  • % revenue as remuneration: 0.21%

FTSE 100

  • Aviva

CEO Salary £1.9m (….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.19.1194…0i67k1j35i39k1j0i20i263k1j0i22i10i30k1j0i131k1j0i131i67k1.0.UwKRX5aE4V4)

Revenue £49.65 billion (

  • Anglo American plc

Revenue £20.04 billion (

CEO Salary 6.7 million (

  • Melrose Industries

Revenue 2.092 billion (

CEO Salary £40 million (

  • SSE plc

Revenue 29.04 billion (

CEO salary £2.9m (

  • Vodafone Group

Revenue 40.6 billion (

CEO salary £4.495 million (

  • Standard Chartered

Revenue 11 billion (

CEO salary 6.1m (

  • British Land

Revenue 556 million (

CEO Salary £1.9m (

  • Legal & General

Revenue 43.49 billion (

CEO salary 4.74 million (

  • Royal Mail

Revenue 9.78 billion (

CEO Salary £6m (

  • GVC Holdings

Revenue 780 million (

CEO salary 2.97 million (

FTSE 100 Analysis

  • Total Revenues: £207,028,000,000
  • Total CEO Salaries: £77,705,000
  • Average CEO Salary: £7,770,500
  • Average Revenue: £20,702,800,000
  • % revenue as remuneration: 0.04%

Top 100 Fundraising Charities

  • Cancer Research UK

Revenue £679.3m (

Charitable Spending £472,575,896 (

CEO Salary £244,000 (


Revenue £127,407,000 (

Charitable Spending £90,957,000 (

CEO Salary £162,000 (

  • Marie Stopes International

Revenue £296,124,000 (

Charitable Spending £299,393,000 (

CEO Salary £420,000 (

  • British Red Cross

Revenue £284,500,000 (

Charitable Spending £220,900,000 (

CEO Salary £184,000 (


Revenue £140,877,000 (

Charitable Spending £105,873,000 (

CEO Salary £150,000 (

  • Shelter

Revenue £60,902,000 (

Charitable Spending £44,022,000 (

CEO Salary £120,000 (

  • Canal & Rivers Trust

Revenue £202,900,000 (

Charitble Spending £156,900,000 (

CEO Salarry £219,000 (

  • National Trust

Revenue £594,875,000 (

Charitable Spending £533,695,000 (

CEO Salary £191,000 (

  • Islamic Relief Worldwide

Revenue £126,546,524 (

Charitable Spending 111,496,296 (

CEO Salary £60,000 (

  • Oxfam

Revenue £408,600,000 (

Charitable Spending £303,500,000 (

CEO Salary £129,000 (

Top 100 Charities Analysis

  • Total Revenues: £2,922,031,524
  • Total CEO Salaries: £1,879,000
  • Average CEO Salary: £187,900
  • Average Revenue: £292,203,152
  • % revenue as remuneration: 0.06%
  • Total Charitable Spending: £2,339,312,192
  • Profit Margin: 80%
2018-11-10T11:27:31+00:00 November 9th, 2018|