There has recently been public discussion of the rewards available to senior staff in English and Welsh charities. However, that discussion is usually based on examples of individual salaries, or on unrepresentative and small subsets of the charity population. To provide a robust and informed basis for debate, we have conducted analyses of evidence on the payment of high salaries (defined as the numbers of people paid above £60,000 p.a., a reporting threshold used by the Charity Commission) in: (a) a representative sample of c.10,000 English and Welsh charities, and (b) surveys of individuals regarding comparative salary levels in different sectors of the economy. Overall, survey data show that the proportion of staff in receipt of high salaries is lower than average in the third sector than in other sectors. Information from charity annual accounts is used to demonstrate which charities are more likely than others to pay such salaries, and to relate the likelihood of paying high salaries to charity characteristics (income, location and subsector). We show that the distribution of high pay in the charitable sector is largely a function of the size and complexity of organisations, and is generally unrelated to subsector or income mix.