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2017 salary survey: what's the outlook for charity marketers?

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2017 salary survey - what's the outlook for charity marketers?

Here's the view from our marketing specialists...

For all the marketing, communications, PR and digital salary figures, view or download the full 16-page survey here

It's been another very strong year of opportunities for marketing and communications professionals across the charity sector: our six-strong team of specialists in this area have been hard at work filling more roles than in any previous year, with the demand for talent at all levels remaining consistently high.

That's perhaps not surprising, given the key drivers of that demand have remained consistent too: increased competition for funding, ongoing media scrutiny and a shortage of skills in key areas.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation's latest UK Giving Report, as individuals we're giving as much as ever to charitable causes - a total of £9.7bn in 2016, versus £9.6bn the previous year. But with an ever-increasing range of causes to support and ways of doing so, marketers are having to work harder and smarter to maintain their position, profile and share of those donations.

Many aim to do so through innovation, in the form of new fundraising methods, new marketing channels, new ways of engaging with their supporter base and attracting more. And while these can provide exciting new opportunities, the proliferation of platforms can also present new challenges for communications professionals who need to ensure the charity's values and virtues are projected (and protected) in the most effective way for each channel, often requiring not only more staff but more specialist skills too.

That's particularly noticeable when it comes to digital roles where we've seen a 35% increase in hiring, on top of a similar increase in the previous year.

Yet there's still plenty further to go - surveys throughout the year have shown that in a post Ice Bucket Challenge world, few still need convincing of digital's potential, but progress and expansion is held back by the difficulty of attracting staff with the necessary skills.

This frequently means searching out of sector, since charity digital specialists don't yet exist in anything like the numbers needed to meet the demand. But in common with most third sector roles, charity salaries for the required skillsets are often considerably lower than their commercial counterparts, making it particularly challenging to attract digital talent across the divide, and fuelling fierce competition for those already in the sector.

Naturally those factors can't help but lead to pay increases but what's particularly noticeable in the digital arena is the sheer variety of roles and range of salaries on offer. That's because, unlike long-established, well-understood roles in more traditional marketing and communications (where salaries slide more sedately upwards this year), many digital positions are among the first of their kind within the organisation. They'll have new responsibilities, rapidly-evolving remits, no real benchmarks and quite often, if we're all being entirely honest, few who understand their role well enough to assign any kind of definitive value to their work.

We hope our survey can provide some help in that regard but with the sheer diversity and speed of evolution within digital roles it's possible that, rather like the web itself, there'll be plenty of under and over-valuations before the market matures and settles at more consistent salary levels.

But it's not just the new kids on the block who are in demand. We've seen increased activity within policy and research over the past year - perhaps not surprising given the fast-changing political climate.

Recent battles over the Lobbying Act, a flurry of elections, new ministers and policies, increased public willingness to protest, petition and campaign plus of course the myriad consequences of last summer's referendum (not least on EU and government funding) will surely make roles in this area vital to their respective organisations for some time to come, even if this has yet to translate noticeably into salaries.

If you'd like any more information on salaries within any area of marketing and communications, please call our Marketing team on 020 7820 7333 or email

Meanwhile for the complete figures for marketing and all other major charity job functions, view or download the full survey here.

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