Are third sector marketers underpaid?

Are third sector marketers underpaid


Whilst to some this may seem like a simple ‘yes/no’ question, many of you will know this is not the case…..

‘Third sector organisation’ is a term that relates to organisations that are not-for-profit and non-governmental, as opposed to existing in the private and public sectors. It includes voluntary and community organisations such as registered charities, associations, self-help groups and community groups.

Marketing is becoming increasingly respected within the third sector. The latest salary survey from CharityComms shows over half the respondents (54%) feel marketing has become more valued over the past year. This figure supports that marketing has now firmly landed within the charity sector. Rightly so!

Anyone associated with recruitment for the third sector will be aware that basic salaries in this area are still considerably lower than for their equivalent private sector posts. The latest Charity Marketing & Communications Salary Survey 2015 shows salaries in the region of 30% lower for this sector, even before taking into account bonuses and other incentives.

From personal experience recruiting for charitable organisations the salary gap widens with the seniority of the role. For example Assistant/Executive level roles are reasonably competitive and compare more fairly to salaries in the private sector (approx. 10% difference) however it is when recruiting for Manager, Head of and Director level vacancies that the big differences in pay really become apparent (approx. 30% difference).

There are various explanations for this difference in these times of economic uncertainty; there are budget cuts, pay freezes, a lack of promotion prospects and notably the fact they are charities for whom funding is increasingly difficult to secure.  However where charities may fall short on basic pay, they do in the most part make up for this in terms of the benefits they offer to employees including flexible working hours, competitive pension contributions and support for professional development which generally allows for a better work/life balance.

Despite the fact that some would struggle to work for the third sector, solely due to the salary difference, I have never found recruiting for this sector problematic. The majority of marketers recognise that working within the charity sector isn’t all about the salary. Yes you may take a hit on your payslip every month, but what you get in terms of job satisfaction could be priceless. I find that the majority of third sector marketers are inspired by their jobs, the feeling of making a real difference, the variety of work and often the freedom for creativity.

I would be keen to hear comments from marketers both junior and senior that work in the third sector (or private), as well as any HR staff and hiring managers.


Find out more about our Third Sector Marketing Recruitment service


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