Charity CEO steps down from trustee role as regulator continues salaries probe

20 Oct 2023 News

The chief executive of a global youth charity has resigned from her additional role as a trustee after 10 years while a probe into the organisation’s salaries continues.

The Charity Commission opened a compliance case into One Young World last October after reports of six-figure salaries paid to CEO Kate Robertson and her daughter, Ella Robertson McKay.

Its probe began after Robertson was paid £440,000 in the 18-month period to June 2021, while Robertson McKay received £195,000. 

Recently-published accounts for the 2022 calendar year state that Robertson was paid £225,000 while Robertson McKay, who is managing director for summit and operations at the charity, received £115,000.

The latest accounts also state that Robertson resigned from the charity’s board in July and that remuneration was agreed by “non-conflicted trustees”.

In a statement, One Young World said Robertson stepped down from her trustee role “to focus 100% on driving the organisation” and that it expected the compliance case into the charity to conclude this year. 

Robertson steps back as trustee to focus on ‘driving organisation’

A spokesperson from One Young World said two independent trustees are set to join the charity's board later this year. 

They said: “After nearly 10 years as a trustee helping oversee tremendous growth and steering the charity through the very challenging Covid period, Kate Robertson is relinquishing her trustee role to focus 100% on driving the organisation and further maximising its impact.

“Kate remains CEO of One Young World and is wholly focused on the successful running of the organisation and its global team. It was always our intention to appoint new trustees to further strengthen the governance of the organisation and we are pleased to be pressing ahead with this plan.”

£2m salaries over five years

One Young World was co-founded by Robertson in 2009 and holds an annual conference for young leaders from across the globe. 

Salary costs at the charity amounted to £2.2m in 2022, accounting for 29% of the charity’s overall income (£7.5m). 

Five members of staff earned above £70,000, three more than the previous financial year. 

The accounts read: “Senior executive remuneration is designed to attract the best talent who will ensure the charity continues to deliver its charitable aims and objectives”.

Robertson and her daughter have received over £2m in salaries over a five-year period, according to accounts filed. 

One Young World: ‘We are confident in the health of the charity’ 

A spokesperson for the charity said: “One Young World has always had a commitment to transparency, and we have worked closely with the Charity Commission to answer all its questions about the governance of the charity.

“The most recent communication of timings from the Commission indicates that this process will be concluded before the end of the year.

“We are confident in the health of the charity and the tremendous impact it continues to have, especially following our world-class summit that took place earlier this month in Belfast.”

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