- Year of publication
The UK Almanac gives an overview of the voluntary sector’s scope and characteristics, including its finances, workforce, and volunteering. This year's Almanac draws on data from the 2019/20 financial year. This helps us to understand how prepared charities were going into the pandemic, the initial impact as the country went into the first lockdown, and what state they might be in going into the cost of living crisis.
The Almanac dataset was developed in partnership with the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham, using data from the Charity Commission and a representative sample of charity accounts. Additional data for Scotland is provided by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), and for Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA).
Five insights about the state of the voluntary sector: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/news-and-insights/news-index/five-insights-voluntary-sector-civil-society-almanac-2022/#/
Key Highlights: 1. The number of voluntary organisations increased as did the sector’s workforce and total income. There are 165,758 voluntary organisations in the UK (2019/20), an increase on the previous year. The voluntary sector has a workforce which is almost a million strong (950,000 workers) - about two-thirds the size of the NHS workforce - and has grown by more than a quarter (27%) in the past decade.
The sector’s total income in 2019/20 was £58.7bn. The sector spent 97% (£56.9bn) of its income, with most of the spending (71%) going towards delivering charitable activities. The remaining amount is spent on grants (15%, £8.8bn) and on fundraising activities (13%, £7.7bn). Compared to the previous year, the cost of charitable activities rose by 3%, while fundraising activities fell by 6% and grants rose by 13%.
- The combined effects of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis are likely to impact the sector as a whole but leave smaller charities particularly vulnerable. Out of a total of 165,758 voluntary organisations in UK, the majority (80%) are small. However the number of charities with income below £100,000 are declining, and the overall number of newly-registered charities is also falling. For example, charity registrations were almost 6,000 in pre-pandemic 2019, compared to almost 4,000 in 2021.
Charity closures during the pandemic were lower than predicted, though the number of newly-registered charities fell below average in 2021.
- For the first time in 20 years, income from the public contributes half (51%) of all voluntary sector income, while income from government continues to decline. With wages not rising in line with inflation and inflation expected to peak at its highest rate in 40 years1 by the end of 2022, income from the public is at risk of decreasing at a time when the sector is majority-funded by the generosity of the public. Smaller organisations, dependent on the public for more than half their income (58%), will likely be worse affected.
Income from both central and local government, which make up a quarter (26%) of all sector income, has declined by 3% and 9% respectively from the previous year. This particularly effects larger charities with over £1m income, who depend primarily (87%) on government income. Government spending cuts2 have already resulted in charities closing vital programmes.
Income from grants and government contracts has also declined. Contracts made up the majority (82%) of all income from government almost a decade ago in 2010/11, but have now dried up to less than a quarter (23%) in 2019/20.
Volunteer retention for older and socio-economically disadvantaged groups has become challenging.
The diversity of the sector’s workforce remains low and but is higher among volunteers, while young people are still least likely to be involved in the sector.
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