What is the Almanac?


First published in 1996, the Almanac gives an overview of the voluntary sector’s scope and characteristics, including its finances, workforce, and volunteers.

It draws upon a unique historical dataset based on charity annual reports and accounts from the year 2000/01 onwards, plus data and evidence from a range of government and sector research including the Community Life Survey, the Labour Force Survey and NCVO’s own research.

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. 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).

The Almanac is based on the definition of ‘general charities’ developed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to capture the voluntary sector’s contribution to GDP to the National Accounts. We use this subset of charities as a measure of the voluntary sector because of challenges around data quality and availability for organisations that are not registered charities.

How is the Almanac used?

On our website, anybody can access and download the charts and tables. You can use this data to:

  • Understand the scope and scale of the voluntary sector
  • Highlight the value of the sector, influence policy, and strengthen your campaigns
  • Inform your organisation’s financial plan and fundraising strategy
  • Assist with your board’s strategic thinking
  • Compare your organisation against others
  • Explain the context your organisation works in
  • Understand workforce trends in the sector and what this might mean for you
  • Improve your volunteer recruitment and involvement

We undertake further analysis throughout the year which we publish in various forms, including briefings, reports, blogs, and social media content.

We also undertake bespoke research based on our financial data for a range of voluntary organisations, public and private bodies, and academic researchers.


The Almanac would not be possible without the contribution of the following people and organisations:

  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham
  • SCVO
  • Office for National Statistics

The authors of this year’s Almanac are:

  • Oliver Chan
  • Bradley Fern
  • Anya Martin
  • Nayyara Tabassum

The Almanac relies on the support of current and former staff across NCVO, particularly: Rei Kanemura, Alex Farrow, Noama Chaudhry, Rupa Clarke, Sean O’ Brien, Kate Mathias, Georgia Sanders, Harriet Conner, Nick Snow, Sophie Swain, Rebecca Young, Catherine Goodall, Sam Mercadante, Chris Walker.

About NCVO

With over 17,000 members, NCVO is the largest membership body for the voluntary sector in England. We support voluntary organisations, social enterprises and community interest companies, from large national bodies to community groups working at a local level. We aim to provide our members with the best quality evidence base to help them inform policy and practice, and plan for the future.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 27 October 2022