Making Life Simple: Integrated Payroll & HR in the Charity Sector

payroll and hr in charities


2024/25 Payroll Legislation Guide

The facts, figures, thresholds and allowances for 2024/25, in one handy guide.

There’s a strange disconnect in the charity sector. Charities are generally born out of passion, dedication and a desire to make a difference. But the machine that runs the charity is a much more pragmatic thing. And it’s not always easy. Operating on a shoestring and goodwill can mean that managing the day-to-day can be difficult. Particularly when it comes to HR and payroll. There may be quite a few challenges, but luckily, there are solutions too!

HR & payroll challenges in charities

Every industry has its own particular quirks. And that’s plenty true in the charity sector, where ‘quirky’ can tip over into ‘utterly frustrating’. So where do these pain points lie?

1. Recruitment

You want to secure the best talent you can. Because you want to drive impact. But with limited resources it can be very difficult to attract the right kind of person for the job. You want someone who cares passionately about your area of focus, but you’re competing against the shiny world of corporate. So, hiring the most skilled and motivated people can be a challenge. 

2. Compliance and regulations

Every HR & payroll professional is used to managing compliance. It’s all part of the fun. But when you’re dealing with public funds, the red tape ramps right up. And when you’re managing HR in one system and payroll in another, the possibility of errors in your data multiplies. 

3. Keeping people happy

When you’re operating on tight budgets it will limit your ability to offer competitive salaries and benefits packages. Not only that, but it’ll limit your ability to offer the nice little perks of the corporate world – the free coffees, the away days and the gym memberships. Retaining your talent is essential but goodwill only goes so far. 

4. Manual processes and limited technology

The idea of an integrated HR & payroll system might seem like a huge outlay. But for organisations that still rely on manual payroll processes, the costs will be racking up. Anything that time-consuming, error-prone and unwieldy is going to have an impact on your overheads. Clunky old tech is bound to hinder efficiency and productivity. 

5. Employee engagement and motivation

You know how important employee engagement is. And you probably know that employee experience is too. And you know you want to invest in both.  

And if you’ve missed our blogs on either, you can find them here (Employee Engagement) and here (Employee Experience).  

Luckily, in the charity sector, when you onboard your new talent, they arrive motivated and passionate about achieving the mission. But maintaining that drive, without having the golden ticket of a tidy compensation and benefits scheme, is difficult. And it gets even tricker in times of change or uncertainty.  

When you’re working on something you care about, the rewards can be tremendous. But the emotional challenges can be equally massive. Burnout is very real. And it’s hard to avoid when you’re running on passion and the tank is nearly empty. 

6. Succession planning

As an industry, the charity sector is ageing. There’s a real shortage of young people who are attracted to these roles. So, it’s pretty hard to plan for what comes next. Plus, with limited resources it’s hard to commit to investment in training and development, meaning that the young blood who do join, can find themselves trapped. 

7. Payroll and staffing complexities

We know payroll is complex. And it’s even more complex in any sector where you have a huge range of different employment types. In charities you could be looking at any combination of direct employment, self-employment, third-party staff and a volunteer force. Add to that the contract lengths and different pay spines. Next, factor in that thing we mentioned a minute ago about how lots of charities are still using manual processes and limited technology. Now we’re looking at a payroll & HR process that’s prone to error. And a team that’s prone to collapse come month end! 

And what impact do those challenges have?

There’s a lot to do. And not a lot of resource to get you to where you need to be. So, all these challenges stack up. And when things go wrong, they can go badly wrong. 

1. Payroll problems

With this many challenges in an overstretched, under-resourced environment, it’s all too easy for errors to crop up in your payroll. And that’s not something you can afford. You’ve worked hard to recruit the talent, so you don’t want to risk losing them.   

2. Inefficient processes

When you’re working with patchy systems that have been developed out of necessity rather than created to fit your needs, you’re going to get tangled up in inefficient processes. Paper shuffling and pivoting spreadsheets. Fitting into inefficiency is frustrating, especially when you already have restricted resources.  

3. Admin overload

If you’re trying to balance the books for countless contracts and numerous pay spines, as well as managing the HR admin for all your people, and you’re trying to do this using outdated manual systems, you’re going to be spending most of your day on admin. Inputting, checking, correcting, calculating. Which is OK, but you’ve probably got more to give. And your time can be better spent. Which leads us nicely onto… 

4. Poor people management

There’s so much you could be doing to enhance employee experience, but you’re wading through a sea of admin. It’s an obvious equation. If your time is eaten up by admin, you can’t be looking out for your people. And that’s what an HR team really wants to be doing. 

5. Turnover troubles

When an employee isn’t feeling the love, they’re likely to look elsewhere. So, if you haven’t got time to invest in enhancing their experience, and if you add to that an inaccurate payroll, you’re likely to start losing your talent.  

6. Low productivity and performance

And the talent you do retain will be hugely impacted by the inefficiencies in your process. The data shows that employees who feel engaged in their work, who feel valued by their organisations, and who feel that their value is recognised (through compensation or other avenues) are more productive. 

7. Lack of data insights

Good luck with your analytics in this situation. And we genuinely mean that in the nicest way. Chugging through 12 different spreadsheets, trying to extract the insights you need to enhance your productivity isn’t going to be easy. We feel for you. 

The solution: Fully integrated HR and payroll for the charity sector

Alright, here’s where you might feel a little bit uneasy. When you’re in the charity sector and every penny counts, it might feel a little greedy to buy your team an integrated HR & payroll system. But trust us on this one. The savings are going to more than cover the initial outlay. Not only that, but it’ll resolve the trickiest bits of your job. And here’s how. 

1. Payroll and HR integration

We’re talking about one integrated system for your HR data and your payroll data. So, what does that actually mean? It means one place to input data, one place to edit data, no duplicates, no grey areas. And no more endless checking and rechecking.

2. Payroll and HR automation

When you’re used to running every part of your process manually, you won’t believe the changes that automation will bring. It’s touch-of-a-button stuff. Whether that’s the crucial things like running the payroll, or the great value-added stuff you’ve been longing to do like surveys that can help you to drive improvement, it’s all there. 

3. Cloud-based systems

And if you want to talk time saving, let’s have a moment of cloud chat. The fact that your new integrated system will be held on a cloud-based platform means you can access it wherever, whenever.

4. Manage complex pay structures with ease

Your new integrated HR & payroll system will handle a variety of pay structures, contracts, employee types, you name it, as easily as a juggler handles those burning clubs!

5. Powerful payroll and HR reporting

Not only will you find a suite of great reports which should give you all the analytics you could ever want, most systems will also have the functionality to create bespoke reports. So, whatever the insight you need, you got it. Simple.

6. Customisable employee surveys

Now that you have time on your hands (thanks spreadsheets, but, no thanks), you’ll want to turn your attention to that employee engagement we talked about earlier. Here’s your easy answer. With a full suite of customisable employee surveys, you can find out what’s what in no time. And if you choose an employee self-service option for your HR & payroll, your employees can upload their responses directly. Double whammy of joy for you.

7. Automated performance management

Employees who know where they’re going, who have a career arc in front of them and who know how to achieve it feel a higher level of engagement. And HR teams who have a system that helps them map this out, and then automates the processes to make it happen feel pretty supported too!

8. Streamlined and unified solution

This won’t just feel better for you (because your life is about to improve!) but it’ll also affect the entire employee lifecycle. Your processes will be simpler. They’ll feel that. And they’ll want to stay for that. 

The next step: Integrated HR & payroll for charities

The answer’s pretty clear. Work shouldn’t be a stress-fest for anyone—and if it’s a stress-fest for you, it’s probably trickling down to your teams. 

But we’ve spent a whole lot of time (and quite a bit of budget) researching the best ways to bust that stress when it comes to HR and payroll. And we think we’ve got some incredible solutions. You can customise your integrated systems to best suit your needs. Choose from a whole menu of things like: 

  • Integrated HR and payroll systems 
  • Employee self-service 
  • Bolt-ons like Cintra Groups for delegation to distributed teams 
  • Outsourced payroll with access to a team of payroll professionals.  

And we can show you how it’ll all make sense in your context. So, whatever your needs, and whatever the solution, we can work it out. Book a demo today. 

Picture of Danielle Nicholson
Danielle Nicholson
Danielle is our Communications and Content Manager, leading the content strategy for Cintra. Outside of her passion for all things copywriting, she loves being on the water in a kayak or taking long walks with her Golden Retriever!