Funding of the UK's largest charities reflects wider trends, new analysis shows

Super-major charities (defined as those with an income over £100m) are experiencing similar trends and challenges with income to the rest of the voluntary sector, new analysis of data collected for the NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac has shown.

Data for the period 2009/10 - 2015/16 shows that charities with an annual income of £100m or over have grown to account for a fifth of the voluntary sector's total income. £100m+ charities are growing in number, and so is their collective income, which increased from £6.4bn in 2009/10 to £9.4bn in 2015/16.

£100m+ turnover charities generate their income from similar sources to the rest of the voluntary sector. They receive the highest proportion of their income from the general public, and a similar proportion from investment returns, the National Lottery and business.

Reductions in public spending at national and local levels, and greater competition with the private sector, have resulted in charities losing out on income from government across the board. £100m+ charities appear to be relatively resilient to these changes, and this partly explains why their share of the voluntary sector’s total income from government increased from 12% in 2009/10 to 16% in 2015/16.

However, most of the increase from government to £100m+ charities was in international development, with a 72% increase in income between 2013/14 and 2015/16. This money came from both an increase in funding from the Department of International Development, and an increase in funding from foreign governments and international government agencies.

Without international development income, government funding for £100m+ charities decreased by 5%. Factors included the loss of local government service contracts, although cuts to local government funding and changes to commissioning and procurement have impacted more seriously on small and medium size charities.

The number of £100m+ charities increased between 2009/10 and 2015/16 from 26 to 45. Charities addressing social care, health, and international development were more likely to be represented in comparison to all other charities. Many are also grant-making organisations: between them, they give out over one third of the voluntary sector’s spending on grants. Nine of the ten largest grant-makers in the voluntary sector are now in the £100m+ group of charities.

Karl Wilding, director of public policy and volunteering at NCVO, said:

'This new analysis shows that the UK’s charities might have more in common with much smaller organisations than is commonly assumed. £100m+ charities, despite their size, are impacted by wider trends in government spending, individual giving and grant making in much the same way as the rest of the voluntary sector.

But they’re also a very diverse group – like the rest of voluntary sector, they represent all walks of life. By digging a little deeper in this report we hope to help a build understanding of how our largest charities fit into the voluntary sector.'


  1. Download the full research briefing on Britain’s biggest charities
  2.  All data for the research briefing was from NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac data from the years 2009/10 through to 2015/16.
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