UK Civil Society Almanac 2012 /
Is the number of voluntary organisations increasing?

Since the register of charities was launched in the 1960s, the number of charities has grown steadily, with at least 2,500 organisations registered every year. In 2010, 4,448 new general charities were registered. Both registrations and removals are unrelated to economic conditions: the peaks and troughs shown are the result of administrative action by the Charity Commission, not recessions. In 2007 the Charity Commission started a Register of Mergers, by January 2012 it had records of over 900 mergers. [13a]

General charities in England and Wales: registrations, removals and number, 1961 – 2011

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The UK is not alone in seeing such growth, a worldwide trend referred to as a “dramatic associational revolution”.[13b] For example, the total number of nonprofits, or tax-exempt organisations, in the United States has grown rapidly in recent years, increasing by 27% from 1995 to 2005 alone. In each year over the past decade, the Internal Revenue Service has approved, at a minimum, 50,000 new nonprofit organisations.[13c] What is not known is whether the public is happy with a constant stream of new registrations, and whether there is a “correct” number of voluntary organisations per head of the population.


Kane, D. (2010) When two become one for more details
Salamon & Sokolowski (2004) Global civil society: Dimension of the non-profit sector, volume two
Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (2009) Anything goes: approval of Nonprofit Status by the IRS.(pdf)
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UK Civil Society Almanac 2012 / The Voluntary Sector /Scope

Published: 17-02-2012 / Tagged: