At our latest Sangha meeting we discussed charitable giving. The subject came up in relation to the recent revelations that 32 UK charity bosses were paid over £200,000 last year.
A survey of boardroom pay among the top 150 charities found that 32 executives were paid over £200,000 last year, up from 30 in 2013.
The number of charity leaders paid over £300,000 also increased from nine to 12 in two years, according to research by Third Sector magazine. Overall, the median pay level for bosses across the top 100 charities in the UK was £165,000 a year.
The usual justification that such high salaries are needed to attract the best talent was wheeled out. Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which represents charities said: “There is a clear case for paying for expert staff to achieve the results donors rightly demand – although times are still tough for charities which is why average executive pay is falling.”
Presumably then, if we give more to the charities the CEOs will be paid more?
Our generosity is intended to benefit those in need not to boost the pay of people who one would have hoped were motivated by the same spirit of wanting to contribute to the welfare of other beings less fortunate than ourselves.
The Buddhist practise of Dāna has been defined in traditional texts as any action of relinquishing the ownership of what one considered or identified as one’s own, and investing the same in a recipient without expecting anything in return.
The danger is that if such giving is perceived as being diverted into the already well-lined pockets of those in charge people will stop donating, thinking that they are just throwing their money into the trough.
Generosity doesn’t have to mean giving material things or money. In fact, often the most generous thing we can give in our busy world is our time. There are so many things that need doing that we can do voluntarily. We just look around us and see all the suffering there is in the world and then step in and help out where our help is needed.