Why some charity CEOs are paid highly

There is a case for high charity wages

I was disappointed to hear one of my relations say, recently, that she felt so critial about reports of high salaries to charity executives that she’d “never give another penny to the St Vincent de Paul”.

Charities like the Vincent de Paul – which have given so much support to the needy – not only depend upon donations: they depend, above all, on trust.  Trust is the most precious commodity an organisation can have – that, and reputation.

It seems that most of the Chief Executive Officers of 40 leading Irish charities are paid over €100,000 a year, and indeed some people feel that this is way too much – it is, after all, €2,000 a week.

Yet this situation isn’t unique to Ireland. As a matter of a fact, CEOs of British charities can be paid up to £800,000 a year.

That certainly does seem and awful lot of money, and in line with the trends of recent years whereby inequality of income has widened in all societies, even those social-democratic states such as Sweden and New Zealand where equality is much exalted.

Nevertheless, there is a case for paying the executives of a  large charity in a manner that helps them to raise more funds. One of my oldest friends is the CEO of a mental health charity in Britain, and I know she is paid pretty well – the rate of pay for charity CEOs in Britain veers between £250,000 and £800,000 per annum (though Catholic charities tend to pay their executives less.)

I have, however, watched my friend very effectively ‘work a room’ in soliciting funds for her charity. She may, in the nicest possible way, ask 20 people for a donation of £1,000 each and possibly be turned down by 19 of them: but the twentieth person will write a cheque for a million.

CEOs of big charities in London may be expected to raise in the region of £10 million a year from philanthropic sources – philanthropy nowadays means big bucks. So if the charity head honcho is raising 10 million, it isn’t unreasonable if they are paid a quarter of a million.

Charities of course must be operated in a transparent and honest way, and my own experience is that most charities are decent and honourable. The situation around the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin has given an unedifying impression, unfortunately.

But the principle of paying a charity leader a high salary is not necessarily wrong. If they are able to serve their charity better, and raise very large sums, by their endeavours, then they are surely helping out those in need.


A Franciscan president

Pope Francis’s meeting with President Hollande was a brilliantly handled encounter by the Pope.

The Pope tactfully didn’t reprimand the president, in any personal way, for the recent disclosures about his somewhat rackety lifestyle – humiliating one mistress while secretly carrying on with another. Instead the Pontiff underlined, with good humour, the one thing they had in common – the name of Francis.

Divisions of church and state have always been a sensitive topic in France, and the Holy See has been critical of the way in which the President has forced through parliament his same-sex marriage legislation – colloquially named, ‘Le Mariage Pour Tous’ – disdaining all opposition from grass-roots France.

Ironic, though, that a man who has chosen serial partnership with various ladies, and never himself married, should be so keen on promoting something called ‘marriage for all’.

Yet Francois Hollande’s four children by Segolene Royal have all been baptised Catholics, according to Le Figaro. And indeed he went to school at the college of Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle in Rouen.

Another irony that emerged is that it seems the president only owns one pair of shoes. That was how the paparazzi  identified him on his scooterised trips to his girlfriend, Julie Gayet – he was wearing the same shoes he always wears.

It might even be said that there is something quite Franciscan about owning only one pair of shoes!


Get with it, Minister

Surely the Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is awfully out of date in calling for less religious education in favour of more Maths?

I’m wholly in favour of Mathematics being taught well – it’s surprising to encounter younger folk nowadays who cannot do any mental arithmetic at all, and reach for a calculator for the simplest sum.

But religion is one of the major cultural forces in the world today, and you cannot understand anything about international relations without an educated view of faith.

All the predictions are that the importance of religion will increase in the future. Religious people are more fertile, world-wide, and thus people of faith are tending to progressively outnumber secularists.

Get with the 21st Century, Minister!