The Daily Telegraph recently published an article about the salaries of top executives at some of Britain’s leading international development charities.
Although we fully accept that NGO salaries are a matter of legitimate public interest, information was used selectively and a misleading impression was created.
The average salary for CEOs in the UK’s larger charities is a great deal higher than that paid in the development sector – including at Christian Aid.
As a result, we believe that the true light in which the Daily Telegraph article should be viewed is that it was part of an on-going agenda to undermine UK aid.
We’re making this response because we take our partnership with the churches and with supporters very seriously indeed. While many supporters have written to express their solidarity with us, there are some people who feel that we’ve got it wrong.
It’s inevitable that we won’t answer everyone’s concern here, but we are inviting you to ask us the tough questions – because it’s only through continued dialogue, shared reflection and your invaluable support that we’ll continue to make a real difference to communities across the world.
Christian Aid’s Chief Executive, Loretta Minghella OBE, earned £126,206 last year. We recognise that this is a large sum of money.
However, we want to reassure you that we make every effort to avoid paying higher salaries than are necessary. We pay our staff salaries the same as, or below, the median of other church-based and/or international development agencies.
Indeed, as referred to above, a recent survey of UK charities showed that we pay significantly below the £208,000-£216,000 average for the top 100 charities, in terms of income, in the country.
The Chief Executive role carries an immense amount of responsibility. This includes the stewardship, governance and oversight of how we spend our £95m annual income, the welfare of up to 900 staff and the projects we support to help lift millions of people out of poverty.
We believe that, in Loretta Minghella, we have the right person to lead this organisation forward.
Before joining Christian Aid, Loretta was chief executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, where she oversaw the payment of billions of pounds in compensation to people who lost out because of banking malpractice and other financial failures. She brings a huge amount of expertise, experience and passion to her role.
This week, DFID Secretary of State Justine Greening made a call for greater transparency in the charity sector.
We completely agree that transparency empowers people – that’s why we’re already one of the most transparent organisations in the sector. We’ve always been clear on who earns what and we’re accredited with the highest international standards of transparency.
The bigger story
But here’s the real story the media aren’t talking about. In all the ways that matter, the battle against poverty is being won.
For the first time ever, the goal of ending extreme poverty is within our grasp.
In recent years, the number of people living on less than US$1.25 a day has been halved. The number of children dying before their fifth birthday has also almost halved over the past two decades. More children than ever before are going to school and looking forward to a better future.
Christian Aid is a big part of this story of success. Thanks to you, we’ve helped to improve the lives of millions of people across the world.
More children can get an education, more pregnant women can give birth safely, and people caught up in deadly conflict or natural disasters can get basics like food, medicine and shelter.
In the last year alone, Christian Aid spent more money than ever before on our frontline work. Of every £1 we receive, 86p helps transform people’s lives across the world. The rest is used to generate more money for our work.
Here are just some of our successes in 2012-13:
• Around the world, our partners have helped almost a million people get access to healthcare or adopt preventive health practices
• Christian Aid partners reached 31,000 people with emergency relief after the devastating floods in the Philippines
• Our partner organised an epic, and successful, march of some 60,000 of India’s poorest people to claim their right to land
• Our partners have provided food, emergency shelter, education and psychological support to thousands of Syrian refugees
• Our work in partnership with the Department for International Development earned praise from an independent commission for our use of UK Government funds to promote greater accountability and innovation in our development projects
• We successfully campaigned to strengthen new EU laws that will help tackle tax dodging by making companies more transparent
• We’re trusted to deliver big government UK aid programmes for DFID because an independent commission says we’re highly effective
But we don’t take anything for granted. We know we can only achieve what we do because of the thousands of people like you who pray, donate, collect and organise events in our name.
Everything we do is done in our sincere belief that the money we receive – whether from individual supporters, churches or as a result of government funding – must be spent well.
We hope that this goes some way to reassuring you. We need your continued support to ensure we succeed in our committed aim to end extreme global poverty – sooner and not later.
Together we are transforming people’s lives across the world.