Charities have defended the salaries of their executives, citing the "enormous responsibility" of a position that requires "real leadership, experience, knowledge and skill".
Their comments come after Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross warned that disproportionate salaries for executives risk bringing the wider charitable world into disrepute.
Mr Shawcross spoke out as the Daily Telegraph reported that the number of executives at charities connected to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) receiving salaries of £100,000 or more has increased from 19 to 30 over the past three years. The Telegraph research focused on 14 foreign aid charities which make up the DEC, which raises money quickly at times of tragedy in the world.
The charities involved with DEC include Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.
The British Red Cross said the salary of its chief executive is "far from a secret", adding that it was "fully committed to transparency and accountability". The charity's chief executive Sir Nicholas Young is paid £184,000. In a statement, the charity said: "The salary of our chief executive - which is set by the Board of Trustees, and benchmarked against, and competitive with, other non-profit organisations of similar complexity including other charities and local authorities - reflects the enormous responsibility the position carries."
In the financial year 2012/13, Oxfam said its chief executive was paid £119,560 - a figure the charity says is in "the lower quartile of what other large charities paid for their chief executives". Mark Goldring was appointed chief executive of Oxfam in January of this year.
In a statement, Oxfam said: "We believe this is a fair reward for a job that involves long hours, large amounts of time away from family and overseeing a £360 million organisation that runs everything from a 700-branch national shop network to major emergency responses and long term development work to improve the lives of the poorest people on the planet. Our chief executive is also responsible for more than 5,000 staff and tens of thousands of volunteers."
Save the Children echoed that sentiment, saying the senior position takes "real leadership" and "talent". Its chief executive Justin Forsyth is paid £163,000.
In a statement, Save the Children said: "To run an organisation that reaches 10 million children in more than 50 countries, with thousands of staff, in some of the toughest places in the world takes real leadership, experience, knowledge and skill. Without this talent we would not, in the past five years, have almost doubled our income from £161 million to £284 million, enabling us to reach more of the neediest children on earth than at any point in our 90-year history. We wouldn't have been able to respond to 53 emergencies last year and 14 new emergency responses so far in 2013."
Christian Aid, which paid its chief executive Loretta Minghella £126,072 for 2012/13, said "staff must reflect a large variety of abilities and disciplines" for the organisation to run successfully. The charity added: "People are employed at Christian Aid on the basis of the specific skills that they bring to their particular role."