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Our finances and pay


Historically, our income comes from three main sources.

  • Our members, who pay an annual membership fee (unless their income is under £30,000).
  • Our services, including our training and our conference venue.
  • Charities Aid Foundation, a charity established by NCVO, which helps bring charities and donors together.

During 2020/21, our services income was significantly affected by covid-19 restrictions particularly as our conference suite facilities have been closed for almost the entire year. We are extremely grateful to have received a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund to allow us to continue to deliver our services and provide additional support to charities and voluntary organisations through a financially challenging year.


We employ around 90 staff. Salaries for the chief executive and directors are set and reviewed annually by our human resources and remuneration committee, a sub-committee of our board of trustees. The committee includes specialists with significant pay expertise and knowledge, especially of the charity sector.

All other staff salaries are set by the leadership team. They're arranged in organisation-wide pay bands, using comparisons with charities of our size in London, and taking into account factors including inflation and our financial position. Salaries are openly stated in job adverts.

Our approach to pay

We're ambitious for the voluntary sector and believe in recruiting high-calibre, talented people to represent our interests. We also believe in rewarding staff fairly for the jobs they do and in fostering a positive working environment. We believe our salaries and terms and conditions reflect this. We are a living wage-accredited employer - all our staff and contractors are paid at least the living wage/London living wage.

We believe in creating routes into the voluntary sector for people who can't afford to undertake unpaid ‘internships’. We've established paid traineeships which provide people with the training and skills they need to establish successful careers, while rewarding them fairly for their work. We also runs an apprenticeship in partnership with Queen Mary University of London, leading to a BSc Business Management degree – social change.

People are employed at NCVO on the basis of the specific skills and experience they bring to their particular role. For us to run successfully, a large range of knowledge, skills, experience and professional qualifications are required. We need to pay appropriately to ensure we can recruit people with the right skills.

We firmly believe in developing staff for the long-term and benefiting from their growing knowledge. We need to retain staff in a competitive market where, not least as a result of NCVO's cross-cutting role, skills are readily transferable to other organisations both in the voluntary sector and other sectors.

Recruiting staff can be disruptive and expensive, especially as many of our staff have detailed knowledge that is unique to them in the organisation and could not be quickly replaced. There's also a balance to be struck as we recognise we're a small organisation and accept that some staff will leave and move on to new opportunities for their own careers. Our staff pay scales are set with these factors in mind.

Chief executive and directors' pay

Alex Farrow, director of influencing and engagement: £74,000

Andrew Walkey, director of services and partnerships: £74,000

Our unique position in representing the whole of the voluntary sector means our chief executive and directors need a breadth and depth of expertise which requires drawing from the best senior-level talent in a competitive market.

They need to be able to command the respect of their peers among our members, from the smallest to the very largest charities, through their experience and their credibility. At the same time, we seek to keep salary costs under control and champion transparency in relation to senior pay.


All staff pay levels are reviewed annually.

The chief executive and directors' pay is determined by the HR and remuneration committee. Their aim is to benchmark these salaries around the 25th centile, which is the lower end, of larger national charities' pay levels, with a 7.5% tolerance.

We believe this comparison with national charities reflects the nature of the skills we need to recruit and retain.

Staff pay is reviewed by the leadership team and negotiated on behalf of staff by NCVO’s recognised union, Unite. Our aim is to pay at the 75th centile, which is the higher end, compared to organisations of our size in terms of income and number of employees in the voluntary sector.

The same benefits, including pensions, and terms and conditions apply to the chief executive and directors as all other staff.

We don’t apply any form of performance-related pay, nor do we have a bonus scheme. We don’t apply increments to staff salaries beyond one automatic increment after the first 12 months of service.

Each year the chief executive and directors participate in performance appraisal, as part of the same feedback and appraisal scheme operated for all NCVO staff. In the case of the chief executive, this includes seeking detailed feedback from board members, colleagues and external contacts.

Current senior pay levels

Sarah Vibert, chief executive: £120,000

Laura Crandley, chief operating officer: £92,306

Total salary excludes pension contributions. The chief executive and directors, like all NCVO staff, are also entitled to other benefits, such as childcare vouchers, which have not been included here. Details of expenses for the chief executive and directors are available in our annual report.

Pay ratio

The ratio of our highest salary (£120,000) to our median salary (£38,145) is 3:15:1.

Pay awards

While they are separately determined, annual pay awards for the chief executive, directors and staff have always been at the same percentage level.

From 2011 to 2018, both the senior management team and staff have received an annual 2% pay award. In 2019, a pay award of 2.7% was made. In 2020, given the effects of the pandemic, there was no pay rise awarded. In 2021, we awarded a 2% pay rise together with a pro rata one off payment of £500. In 2022, a pay award of 4.25% was made to all staff below the leadership team due to the high inflationary rate and increased cost of living. The leadership team other than the CEO and director of finance and services were awarded a rise of 3% and a one off payment of £500.

More details on NCVO’s finances and operations are available in our annual reports, which set out in detail what we have done to achieve our aims.

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