Sightsavers global


Home of our global advocacy and policy centre, detailed information on our programme work and library of professional resources.

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How we spend your money

A young man holding a stack of one pound coins.

Every penny you give is vital in achieving Sightsavers’ goal of eliminating avoidable blindness and promoting equality for people with disabilities. It pays for the most sustainable programmes and the most effective means of getting treatment and support to where it’s needed. It has allowed us, in our 65-year history, to distribute 295 million treatments to protect against river blindness, provide 6.1 million sight-restoring cataract operations, and support more than 180,000 people with disabilities to live more independently.

We think it’s money well spent, and we hope you do too.

We do our best to spend wisely, and that means finding the best solutions, which aren’t always the cheapest solutions. We ensure we have good financial management, we work to make sure the changes we secure are long term, and we don’t cut corners. We also work with local partners who have in-depth knowledge of challenges in their own countries and know the best ways to reach the people who need support the most.

It’s complex work – we could talk for hours about strategic networks and technical expertise (in fact, if that’s what you’re after you’ll find it on our SIM card and dashboard), but here are some of the more straightforward facts you might like to know:

  • We work in more than 30 countries, and are responsible for funds and gifts in kind* approaching a total of £200 million every year.
  • Every member of our board of trustees is unpaid – and it’s their job to make sure we get the best possible value for money.
  • We make sure our funds go as far as possible: we’re required to show we’ve met quality standards for all operational spending and we have clear expense policies.
  • We pride ourselves on our effective use of funds, and we currently hold an ‘A’ rating for our Programme Partnership Arrangement with the UK Department for International Development, which funds some of our work.

*that’s non-monetary gifts – things like the donated medical supplies we receive from companies like Pfizer and Merck who provide treatments for trachoma and river blindness

If you want to read more, there are some interesting (and sometimes controversial) opinions on how charities in general spend money and how they should be held accountable for it, including these:

Duncan Green’s blog for Oxfam: OK, so how much should charity bosses be paid?

Dan Pallotta’s TED talk: The way we think about charity is dead wrong

How we set salaries

We aim to make our salary packages competitive with other equivalent organisations in the areas where we work (both geographically and by type of role), so we’re able to attract and retain good staff. We have a remuneration committee, which sets the salary for the Chief Executive, and approves the salaries of her direct reports and the overall reward structure and policy.

The salary of our Chief Executive Dr Caroline Harper (as at December 2014) is £114,128. She has no bonus scheme or car allowance, and the same pension rights as all other UK staff. All UK staff are paid at least the living wage, including interns. The ratio of the highest paid person to the lowest in the UK is approximately 6:1, and the ratio of highest to median is 3:1.

Comment from Sightsavers’ Chair, Martin Dinham

“The issue of charity CEO and senior salaries is a very important matter to me and Sightsavers’ board of trustees. As trustees our responsibility is to make sure that the resources of the charity, the funds raised and the time and efforts of our volunteers and staff bring the greatest benefit possible to the people we work for.

“We believe that strong leadership and management are crucial to an organisation like Sightsavers which operates in more than 30 countries, and manages significant, complex grants from donors including the UK government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Conrad Hilton Foundation.

“Sightsavers undertakes rigorous financial monitoring of all expenditure, both organisationally and within the projects that it supports. We aim to be as transparent as possible so you can be sure your money’s being used wisely and efficiently. High calibre leadership is critical and can make an enormous difference to the effectiveness of our work, and believe that our CEO makes far more difference to our beneficiaries than she costs. But we keep this matter constantly under active review.”


Ade Adepitan leaning on the back of a ute, surrounded by children.

Sightsavers on C4’s Unreported World with Ade Adepitan

09 October 2015

TV presenter and wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan sees the life-changing impact of Sightsavers-supported cataract operations in Malawi, in an episode of Channel 4's Unreported World series airing on Friday 16 October at 7 Continue reading

An image that looks like a building and road but has deliberately been made very blurry.

World Sight Day: what’s the #ValueOfSight?

08 October 2015

This World Sight Day, Sightsavers is conducting a sight survey - we want to know how you feel about your sight, and what sort of value you put on it. Continue reading

A woman with a bandage over her right eye

Miracles in Tanzania: we blog for Virgin Unite

08 October 2015

This week Sightsavers' Carol Casey blogs for Virgin Unite about her experience of seeing cataract surgery change lives in Tanzania. Continue reading

Sightsavers' CEO Dr Caroline Harper.

World Sight Day: Sightsavers’ CEO on the radio!

08 October 2015

To mark World Sight Day today, Insight Radio has interviewed Dr Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers. Continue reading


For every £1 we receive (including donated supplies)


goes towards our vital work


grows awareness and funds


makes sure everything runs properly

2From 15 September until 15 December all UK donations will be matched pound for pound by the UK government.

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