Chaneling charity

Charities need to rethink how they pay their executives


It’s hardly news that many charity bosses (AKA ‘charitycats’) are earning in excess of £100,000 a year but once again the toothless Charity Commission is bleating instead of acting. I’ve been complaining about this disgraceful situation for years and once again here I’ll highlight the particularly bad example I came to be involved with.


Lady Meyer pictured with her husband Sir Christopher
Lady Meyer pictured with her husband Sir Christopher

In May 2011, The Telegraph’s ‘Mandrake’ covered the story of how the Parents & Abducted Children Together (PACT) charity had paid “all but £9,500 of the money that it received in donations” to its founder, the “Chanel-clad” Lady Meyer, wife of the former British ambassador to Washington, and one member of staff who had been employed as her assistant. ‘Mandrake’ continued:


“[We] understand that Lady Meyer received almost 70 per cent of that sum”.


'Mandrake' 11th May 2011
‘Mandrake’ 11th May 2011

'Mandrake' 12th May 2011
‘Mandrake’ 12th May 2011

When asked for a comment about the £49,586 allocated to pay, the “ambassador’s sociable wife” responded:


“We are doing a huge amount of work for very little salary… I used to work in the City and earned much more”.


Meyer’s comments speak volumes and are illustrative as to exactly how far too many who seek to work in the ‘giving sector’ view charities. It is time such cash cows were slaughtered and once again today we were delighted to see ‘Mandrake’ make mention of this issue by publishing a fine set of comments from our very own contributor, Gina Miller of Miller Philanthropy.



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    • Wasn’t the excuse that “the trustees set her salary”… And didn’t those trustees just happen to include her husband and friends like Barbara Taylor-Bradford…And didn’t this end with her getting a CBE for “services to charity”? The moral compass of the world has become so twisted that it is starting to look like Ozzy Osbourne before breakfast.

    • Just got this on your daily newsletter. Mariathena is right but given turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, this rich woman just continues as if nothing happened. The pictures on the PACT website of her partying in Downing Street sum up all that her charity is about. If she wanted to do good, why isn’t she out on the streets looking for these “lost” kids herself? Putting posters on bus shelters isn’t the way forward. ‘Lady’ Meyer is as much use as a chocolate teapot IMHO.

    • What is wrong with you? You are sick and twisted to make such comments about LADY Meyer (give her the respect she deserves). She has supported dear Gerry and Kate McCann in their search for they beloved child Madeleine and PACT is a fine organisation. You should get a grip Mrs Papathanasiou. As one of the Steeple cronies, you will be condemned in hell if you continue to say such things.

  1. Those sitting in the saddle of a cash cow, always claims that their critics fail to see the greater good that comes from it. It has always been a nice additional income. The compassion and do-gooder industry is worth a fortune in the United Kingdom. The publicists of the rich and famous have list of charities on their books, for image damage control purposes. It is the most effective tool in dealing with the aftermath of a scandal.

  2. Interesting article and quite right to be highlighted but . . . the current debate is tarring all of the voluntary sector with the same brush. On the issue of national charity execs who earn over £100,000, this is a miniscule number compared to the sector as a whole and the problem with William Shawcross’s intervention is that many smaller service charities, for example those providing services for local authorities, will have seen his comments and thought – “gee thanks! here I am having to fight for funding, expected to help more clients for less money and now the person who is supposed to be looking after the sector is stabbing me in the back too!”

    Now, before the comments come in – yes there are badly run charities, and yes there are those that spend too much on chief execs or other work and not enough on their clients. But I run a local Age UK (btw we are not funded by the national charity – we get a small amount of money from them but we are independently registered and have to raise our own funds)and we all have to file accounts so the figures are there to see – it is up to funders to challenge this and tackle poor management with the charity directly. The Charity Commission throwing brickbats like this just makes the public think we are all over-paid and it will ultimately hit donations and income at a time when we are fighting for every penny . . .

    • The Charity Commission should be closed down. It is a waste of public money and though you most probably do lots of good, it is time for proper regulation of where donations from old grannies struggling on their pensions go. If they saw that say just 25p out of every pound went to your cause, they’d be horrified. If they saw that 75p out of that pound went to the cause, it would make them feel much more satisfied. Charities should be forced to declare such and I do think that this should feature on the homepage of every organisation. Legitimate charities would benefit.

  3. Come on – Get real – Cath Meyer is just a lady trying to make her way. She needs a good income to fund all those shoes that she allows Michael Howard to sip champagne from.

  4. People working for the Charity Commission should give their time for free and not milking it . As for Founders of UK Charities such as Mrs Meyer, one would reasonbaly assume that she had enough money to offer her own time and resources to her Charity , if this was not the case and she needed the money to support her lifestyle then she should have kept her well paid job in the City for longer .

  5. Hmmm, sweeping generalisations again. I don’t mix with the v wealthy end as in this article, but no-one I know goes into charity work for the money or for a cozy existence.

  6. Disagree – replace it with what? if you are going to have the regulation you suggest, then it will mean more work investigating charities and therefore cost more.

    On charitable accounts we have to show where the money comes from and where it goes, and this is required of all registered charities. Not sure what you mean by “legitimate” charities either? I think you probably mean those who can prove they are actually helping their intended beneficiaries, which is different. If you go to the Charity Commission website then you can get a snapshot of any charity you’re interested in, with levels of financial data – so you can make judgements from that.

    The power lies with those who supply the money – my charity gets most of its money providing services for the local authority and NHS, and as such we are monitored and accountable to them for what we are delivering. Different charities will have different ways of being accountable, and increased interest and vigilance from funders and donors will deliver better charitable outcomes. if those who suppley the income ask difficult questions then, change will happen pretty quickly afterwards . . .

  7. Irrespective of individuals salaries andor expenses. Look at any Charity registered or otherwise and the largest slice of the cherry cake is on overheads …. the CAUSE getting very little. People should think twice about who they give to. Same applies to the (is the term) jobbers so get you to sign up for £2+ a month, apparently it’s about three years before the money, actually gest through to the charity because of the amount of commission.

  8. Lady Meyer is a good woman. She deserved her CBE. She deserves her salary. She deserves a title of her own. I petition that she is made a Dame with immediate effect.

  9. Mrs Meyer deserves to be put in the stocks. She no doubt lives in a multimillion pound home and has a husband who earns more than enough. If she really cared about missing and abducted children, she would donate her salary to the NSPCC. This ***** is one vile individual.

  10. Yes, indeed, “charity”, philanthropy and “giving back to society” are dangled around as reputation management tools and practices for damage control, image laundering .
    Was actually recently attending a seminar on the topic( part of a corporate governance conference) and was appalled by such posturing. I protested and the presenters seemd a bit embarrased but after all this is how they themselves make money out of their clients

  11. Yes, indeed, “charity”, philanthropy and “giving back to society” are dangled around as reputation management tools and practices for damage control, image laundering .
    Was actually recently attending a seminar on the topic( part of a corporate governance conference) and was appalled by such posturing. I protested and the presenters seemd a bit embarrased but after all this is how they themselves make money out of their clients

  12. I give to charity just like the next man. Plainly whoever this Meyer person is, she should be doing the same. I hope she’s reading this as it might make her realise that we all want everyone to do good rather than bad. Lady Meyer: put your energy to good use.

  13. Isn’t Kate McCann involved with PACT?? In which case like so very much attracts like, although the McCann’s fund is a private limited company rather than a charity. Yes, you’ve read that last bit right.

  14. I saw Lady Meyer had been complaining about a meal costing £144 in a restaurant named Canvas off Sloane Square on TripAdvisor. For all that “doing a lot of work for very little pay” she certainly lives very well. I don’t spend £144 on food in a month and I think this grasping foreigner should be sent back to where she belongs.


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