How we approach charity staff pay and benefits at Giving What We Can

4 min read
16 Nov 2023

As an international charity with a talented global team, one challenging decision we face is how to pay our team members and provide benefits (“remuneration”). We grapple with several key questions:

  • What's ethical?
  • What's fair?
  • What’s expected?
  • What would funders approve of?
  • How do we attract and retain high-quality talent while maintaining a focus on our own cost-effectiveness?

These questions become even more challenging within the nonprofit sector, where perspectives on pay are incredibly varied. Yet, it's crucial we discuss this openly, as staff remuneration often represents one of the most significant expenditures for an organisation.

Our ethos

In line with our mission to create a culture of effective and significant giving, we believe it's a reasonable expectation that our team members earn a salary that would enable them to comfortably donate 10% of their income, should they choose to.

Working at GWWC should not necessitate undue financial sacrifice, nor should it be primarily motivated by financial gain. Rather, we seek to attract individuals who are both highly skilled and deeply committed to effective giving. If someone's primary motivation leans toward earning potential, we would wholeheartedly encourage them to explore 'earning-to-give' opportunities instead.

How our pay calculator works

So, how does this ethos translate into actual numbers? We have built a calculator that incorporates the following:

  • We use a salary band system where our second band (e.g. a junior associate-level role) starts with base salary which is pegged to the average income in Oxford.
  • With each promotion to a new level (within or between bands) the base pay increases by 10%.
  • Depending on the person's location, we adjust 50% of the base salary by relative cost-of-living as a starting point, and make ~annual adjustments to account for factors like inflation and location-based cost-of-living changes.
  • We adjust upwards for experience (500 GBP per pre-GWWC relevance-adjusted FTE year and 1,000 per year at GWWC) with a cap of 10,000 GBP.
  • We have a scaling “competitive skills bonus” for a few roles (e.g., software engineering) that are typically very highly compensated by current markets and therefore difficult to hire for in our context.
  • We recalculate each staff member's remuneration annually and after any significant change in their role or location.

It’s not perfect, but we feel it’s a good start that strikes a balance between vastly different potential approaches. We hope that by sharing it and receiving critiques, we can continue to make adjustments in consultation with our team and our funders.


The pay calculator tends to result in salaries that are higher than at most non-profits but below what a similar role would pay at a for-profit, and often well below what someone with high earning potential could make if they were choosing a career with an eye to earning as much as possible. It also gives lower increases with seniority than are common in the for-profit world resulting in a lower pay ratio from the highest paid to lowest paid employees. The financial sacrifice/incentive for working at GWWC does vary depending on your location, but we strive to make it reasonable


Benefits are another critical aspect of our remuneration package. It can be challenging to harmonise benefits like retirement contributions, healthcare, childcare, training, parental leave, and office equipment across different locations, but we make a concerted effort to offer balanced packages for staff.

Offer letter

In our offer letter we share with the prospective team member their salary calculation and outline the benefits while providing them the opportunity to reach shared agreement on the assumption that goes into the calculation (see our example offer letter for a US-based employee).


Navigating the intricacies of fair and effective remuneration is a complex but crucial task, and one we've approached with considerable thought. We strive to create a community within GWWC that is both mission-driven and a great place to work for our team members. We hope that our public salary calculator and staff remuneration survey can serve as helpful resources for others in wrestling with these same issues.

Feel free to provide any feedback or ask any questions by contacting us. Any feedback you provide will be shared with our team for consideration and used in our next iteration of our remuneration reviews.