When you give to Christians Against Poverty, you want to be confident that your money is being spent wisely. While the vast majority of funds donated are spent on frontline services and helping clients, we do need to invest in a few other important costs which, for transparency, we’ve explained below.
Caring for our staff
This is understandably a controversial subject in the charity sector, with as many views as there are people to discuss them. We’ve made decisions that we believe walk the line between responsible use of the money generously donated to us and rewarding staff well for hard work, talent and commitment.
We’re committed to fairness for all and so an element of compression is applied to the most senior salaries to achieve a 1:5 ratio set by the trustees, between the lowest and highest paid roles, excluding internship roles.
In 2021, the annual salary for the UK Chief Executive was £85,223 (2020: £84,379). The annual salaries for the Chief Operating Officer and Chief People and Culture roles were both £69,185 (2020: £68,500). For other directors in the senior management team, annual salaries were between £55,467 and £59,576 (2020: between £54,918 and £58,986).
As with any organisation that has staff and volunteers working in various areas of the country, we need to ensure that we can connect with our entire organisation from time to time. We’re building a movement of people, and any unified movement requires good communication and relationships. This takes many forms, including line management and regular phone or video calls.
We also host a selection of conferences for our staff, volunteers and church leadership partners. These aim to ensure they’re fully trained, equipped, inspired and cared for so that they can continue the demanding work of supporting people on their journey out of debt and poverty. Each September, we host a gathering of all staff and volunteers over a two to three day period (with head office staff attending only one to two of those days).
We also host one-day regional conferences once a year, with staff split to attend one conference each. These are specifically aimed at investing in the crucial relationship with our church partners, which ensures a stable and long serving network.
There are also a limited number of off-site training days each year for small groups of staff, which are vital for ensuring we continue to develop the talent needed to successfully operate our professional services.
We’re conscious of the cost of these events. Our People Experiences team is trained in effective negotiation skills and we utilise our charitable status to secure low prices, balancing that with seeking an acceptable quality of venue to ensure smooth running of the events. We believe the value of these events is in forming a vital pillar in the emotional support of staff and volunteers who are working with vulnerable people in difficult circumstances, as well as professional development. The huge benefits can also be seen in the longevity of our centre network and staff retention.
Many of our staff need to travel to allow us to outwork our mission. This could be to visit a client, or to attend meetings with creditors we work with. Our fundraisers need to host and attend events to tell people about our work and raise income. There are many reasons we need to travel, and we always ensure that it’s done in the best interest of the charity. We have clear spending guidelines for expenses and require sign off from a line manager. As a rule, where possible (and unless disproportionately expensive compared to other options), we use the budget hotel chain Premier Inn. They are known for providing affordable quality, and allow us to access preferential rates through a business account (therefore also saving money on processing expenses).
Raising funds and awareness
Every charity has to walk a fine line when it comes to fundraising. We have to spend enough money on raising funds and awareness to ensure the income we need to achieve our charitable objectives. We have to do this without spending so much that not enough money is sent to the frontline. In an ideal world, every pound donated to Christians Against Poverty would be spent directly on delivering services that help people out of poverty – the reality is that it would be reckless to continue to try and grow our services without knowing we could support our existing work, yet we know more and more people need our help.
This means we have to fundraise, and if we’re going to fundraise we want to do it well. It means investing in talented people to plan and deliver amazing fundraising activities. It means investing in technology to ensure we hold supporter data securely and can provide a fantastic supporter experience. It means we have to invest money in long-term strategies, such as sponsoring conferences, hosting fundraising dinners and providing resources for individual fundraisers.
Fundraising events are an integral part of our fundraising year. They ensure that supporters who often make significant donations to the charity feel well connected and informed about our work. A big part of our events focus is fundraising dinners. For every £1 we spend on these fundraising dinners, we raise just over £6. We choose to use venues that will ensure our guests enjoy the evening and feel thanked for the vital contributions they make to our work.
Tickets to attend our fundraising dinners are free. We believe that people are more generous with their gifts as a result, because they’re choosing to give towards our work, rather than pay for an evening’s entertainment for a good cause.
A large part of the work we do sees us working with organisations from across the finance industry. This includes major high street banks, credit purchasers, councils, utility providers and enforcement agencies. We work with these organisations on many different levels: providing specialist training, contributing to consultation papers and attending industry conferences and events. CAP inputs into some of the highest discussions relating to debt and poverty issues in the UK.
Some of our work with finance companies sees them making a donation, either through a recognised scheme called ‘Fairshare’ or a direct donation to our work. In 2021, this type of donation made up 6% of our total annual income: 3% from Fairshare and resources, and 3% from companies. This includes donations received from individual supporters who own businesses and choose to donate via them.
Christians Against Poverty is an independent and regulated organisation, and no donation has or will ever influence our policy or treatment of a client’s case. We are legally bound to remain impartial – a rule that we are wholly in agreement with.
There are times when companies act in ways we deem to be wrong. In those moments, we have decisions to make around how to react. The vast majority of the time, we’ll take the issue up with the organisation directly, thanks to the strong relationships we’ve built, and seek to resolve it behind the scenes. This could be an issue with a single case or a systemic problem. At other times, we’ll choose to use a louder voice through the media, a campaign or by joining with other organisations to make a statement. We use the best judgement we can to make a decision appropriate to the situation.