How to Negotiate Salary in a Charity Interview

3 minute read

Moving into the charity sector could involve taking a small pay cut. But no matter the job, you deserve a salary that reflects your experience and the value you’ll bring to the organisation.

All advertised roles in the charity sector should give an indication of what you’ll be paid if you’re offered the role. This may be a ballpark amount, a specific number or a salary range. CharityJob doesn’t allow any UK-based jobs on its site without an advertised salary. This makes it easier to understand an organisation’s budget, but how do you secure the best possible figure?

Here’s what you should keep in mind when you negotiate salary in a charity interview.


Don’t bring up salary until the recruiter does

Assuming you’re broadly happy with a salary somewhere in the advertised range, you should generally avoid discussing salaries at the beginning of the interview process. Wait until the recruiter gets to the offer stage.

Stating your salary expectations before you’re asked isn’t recommended. Sometimes lower salaries in non-profit organisations are balanced out with health benefits, flexible work arrangements or personal growth opportunities. Until you understand what the prospective employer is offering, giving a fully-informed answer is impossible.

Plus, although money is obviously important, it’s unlikely to be your primary motivation for wanting to work in the sector. You don’t want your prospective employer to think that it is.


Look out for salary ranges

If an organisation advertises a wide salary range, you could ask whether they’ll appoint anywhere within the range. Charities sometimes set out salary scales with different ‘points’ or ‘increments’ in the advertised range. An employee’s pay will rise an increment at a time as they gain experience in the role (usually annually). If the salary is structured in this way you’re very unlikely to receive an offer at the top of the range, as there’s no room for any future increase.

A white and grey calculator on a white desk, with coins on one side, a piggy bank on the other and a green plant in front

You don’t have to disclose your salary

Towards the end of the application process, the salary expectation question is used to help put an offer together. You’ve passed all the rounds and now it’s time to negotiate. However, you shouldn’t be asked to disclose your most recent salary in a charity interview. This is a different question from asking your salary expectations. It’s an unfair practice and can perpetuate inequalities.


How to respond to salary expectation questions

If the recruiter asks you what salary you’re looking for, there are a couple of ways you could respond.


1. Consider the size and salary bands of the charity you’re applying to

Your ability to negotiate salary in a charity interview may be pretty limited if the salary has been advertised as a small range. Though salary bands aren’t normally changeable, there may still be some room to bump you up a point or two if you have the relevant skills and experience.

If the salary states one number or is ‘circa’ an amount, there may be more opportunity for negotiation. However, bear in mind that smaller charities will have smaller budgets for salaries overall. The organisation will want you to justify any figure you give, so be prepared with an explanation. You could reference your current package, factoring in benefits, bonuses and achievements.


2. Ask them to give a figure first

A respectful way to withhold your answer is by stating that you don’t have all the necessary information to make an informed decision. If you have a well-written CV and performed well in the interview process, no hiring manager will disqualify you just because you don’t give a number.

If there’s a high demand for the role you’re applying for, the offered figure should take that into account. After the hiring manager names a figure, there’s still room to restate what you bring to the table and negotiate salary.

Two people sitting at a table interviewing a third person

Know your worth

How you go about negotiating salary in a charity interview tells hiring managers much more than the actual number you provide them with. Don’t undersell yourself. You know the full extent of your skills, experience and what you were earning before, so you know your worth better than the recruiter.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you have every right to negotiate salary in a charity interview. You might feel guilty about asking for more money from a charity, but charities can’t function properly if their staff aren’t taken care of. Although charities might not always be able to increase the salary for a role, there’s no harm in asking.

Now that you’re better equipped to negotiate salary in a charity interview, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. Find out which jobs are available today.


* This only applies to UK-based roles. All roles that are posted on CharityJob without a salary will be amended or deleted within 48 hours.


This post was originally published in 2022 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current jobseeker experience.


Chloe Chioy

Chloe is a Staff Writer and CV Expert at CV Genius. Her job advice has been featured on career platforms like Zapier and UKCareersFair, as well as on the BBC.

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