Blog by Linda Robinson, Age NI Chief Executive
It has always been important for charities to be open, honest and accountable about activities. People want to fully understand how their hard-earned donation, especially in a challenging economic climate, is making a difference to a cause that is close to their heart, and rightly so.
We must provide value for money and demonstrate a positive impact upon the lives of the people we exist to support. To do this we require skilled and experienced staff. In recent times, there has been a great deal of discussion within the media about staff costs and Chief Executive salaries in particular. Articles have focussed on headline-grabbing figures which certainly attract attention, but demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the charity sector. They don’t tell the full story.
Age NI, for instance, is a large, diverse and complex organisation within the charity sector in Northern Ireland. Our accounts are made public. We believe it is our absolute duty to share information about our income and expenditure. These are some of our most recent accounts:
- We have 224 people in our team including bank staff
- Last year our income was £4,241,650 and of this figure we received £581,051 in donations
- The Chief Executive salary is £62,168.76 annually
- £2,926,912 (69%) was spent on wages in 2015/16, of which £1,625,806 (or 56%) is care staff costs
These figures certainly demonstrate our accountability and honesty. What they don’t do is tell the full story of our impact. We make a difference.
Care is just one of the services that we provide across Northern Ireland. Every single year we provide 500,000 hours of care to older people in their homes, in our fourteen day centres and in our dementia residential centre.
Our care workers are privileged to share in the delight of a 100th birthday telegram or letters from grandchildren living far from home. They also see how loneliness or bereavement can cause hurt and sadness every single day. Their eyes are open and their ears are listening to people who have long since become invisible to the vast majority of society. They can tell you about their families, about their childhood memories, about their hopes and dreams. Our care workers support people to eat, to move, to talk, to read. Very often, we become a second family to people who have noone in their lives. 56% of our wage bill is spent on our care staff. We wish we had the money to spend more.
People need our care. They also need us to influence government about important age issues; to support the activity and sustainability of local older people’s groups; to ensure that the voice of older people is heard; and to deliver projects with the support of our volunteers that give people the opportunity for a better later life.
Our society is ageing. More and more vulnerable older people need our help and the range of services we provide, from advice and advocacy to emotional support. It’s imperative that organisations like ours operate to their fullest potential so that we can help the people who need us most. Employing a skilled workforce, and supported by the incredible people who volunteer for us, means that we will be here for vulnerable older people day after day. The next time a headline appears, think about the full story.