CDB report on salaries in the Chinese NGO sector released

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China Development Brief has released a report on its survey of employees’ salaries in Chinese Charitable Organizations. Supported by Germany’s Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) Foundation, the survey was carried out from September to November 2016, combining both online surveys and field visits.

The survey involved NGOs working in a variety of fields and based in 30 different municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions, as well as overseas NGOs working in China. The data was collected from a large number of samples and is notable for its representativeness. The investigation was as far as possible conducted in a transparent and public fashion.

The report first finding is that the welfare mechanisms of charitable organizations are not sound. The pay management system in the majority of such organizations is egalitarian, meaning that salary does not play its incentive role properly.

It was also found that the pay structure for charitable organizations’ employees is rather flat. Public welfare organizations use a single-track wage system, mainly according to the division of duties, while standards based upon other projects and technical parameters are generally missing.

What also transpired is that the salaries in charitable organizations are relatively low. Out of the 489 people sampled in the survey, 77% had incomes under 7,000 yuan a month, 35% were in the 3001-5000 yuan range and 23% had monthly wages below 3,000 yuan. Low payment was the primary reason more than half the respondents gave for leaving their jobs (50.5%), a much higher figure than for the next most common reason — dissatisfaction with organizational management (11.8%).  Most respondents (47.3%) went to work in the business sector or other charitable organizations (42.2%) after leaving their original organization.

According to the report, welfare protection (social security) has not caught up with employment for many organizations. The so-called 五险一金 (the five insurances and one fund: endowment, medical, unemployment, employment injury and maternity insurance, and a housing fund) is not covered by all organizations, but only by 63% of them.

The construction of a charitable organization pay system is also lagging behind. At present, China has not specifically standardized the policies and regulations of the charitable organization distribution system.

A report on CDB’s survey in the 公益慈善学院 media outlet makes three related suggestions: firstly, the wage level in charitable organizations is only meaningful when compared to the average income in the local area; secondly, it would be a better reference if a comparison was made between people in the public welfare sector and people with similar educational backgrounds and working experience in other industries; and finally, in the analysis of the survey results, it would be easier for readers to form a reference system to understand in which range their own salary fall on, if data analysis was conducted in accordance with geography, occupation and job position.

In the final analysis, CDB’s report has uncovered that the wage levels in the public welfare sector remain low, but much work will need to be done to improve these circumstances.

Click here to download the full-text of the report (Chinese version)