Income from individuals comprises voluntary income (including donations and legacies) and earned income (including sales of merchandise and fees for events or services). In 2012/13, income from individuals amounted to £18.8 billion, representing 46% of the sector’s income.
- Income from individuals provides the largest proportion of income for every size of organisation
- There is considerable variation by subsector in the proportion of income received from individuals
- Charitable trading outweighs fundraising trading
- Donations provide the largest share of the income voluntary organisations receive from individuals
- Charitable giving is widespread but varies according to demographics
- The causes to which people give follow a consistent pattern
- Donations worth £1 million or more have increased in number but not in value
- Only a small proportion of organisations receive legacy income
- Gift Aid
Income from individuals provides the largest proportion of income for every size of organisation
Major organisations have the smallest share of income from individuals (44%) whilst small and micro organisations have the largest share (56%).
There is considerable variation by subsector in the proportion of income received from individuals
The sub-sector breakdown presented in the Almanac is based on the International Classification of Non-profit Organisations (ICNPO). In some sub-sectors organisations are particularly dependent on income from individuals: for instance, income from individuals provides two-thirds or more of the income for Parent Teacher Associations (88%), religious organisations (71%) and environmental organisations (68%).
Charitable trading outweighs fundraising trading
Earned income from individuals is made up of ‘charitable trading’ such as rent for accommodation, fees for adult social care, training course fees, admission charges and membership subscriptions, and ‘fundraising trading’, for example the sale of donated goods in charity shops and admission fees for fundraising events. Earned income from individuals accounted for more than two-fifths of the sector’s overall earned income (43%). Of the £9.7 billion of earned income from individuals, just over two-thirds came from charitable trading.
Voluntary organisations received £9.0 billion from individual donations and legacies. In 2012/13 donations from individuals generated almost £7.0 billion, accounting for 37% of all individual income and 17% of total income.
An alternative source of information about charitable donations is large-scale surveys of individuals’ charitable giving behaviour, in particular the CAF UK Giving survey and the Cabinet Office’s Community Life Survey. The CAF survey reports, calculate an estimated total amount donated to charity by adults; for 2014 the estimate was £10.6 billion (at 2014 prices). For 2012/13, the period covered by most of the figures in this Almanac, the estimate was £10.4 billion (at 2012/13 prices).
Although 2012/13 Almanac data estimated individual donations at £7.0 billion, this figure does not include fundraising activity, which accounted for £3.8 billion of income from individuals, altogether making £10.8 billion. However, there are a number of reasons why the estimates between the two sources may differ, so it is difficult to assess which figure most accurately represents the overall level of charitable giving. Both estimates, however, demonstrate the scale of charitable giving and its importance to organisations in the voluntary sector.
Charitable giving is widespread but varies according to demographics
In the CAF surveys, the proportion of people reported giving money to charitable causes in a typical month was 44% in 2014 and 57% in 2012/3, before the survey methodology changed. The 2014 CAF survey also reported that 70% of respondents donated to charitable causes in the last 12 months. In the Community Life 2013/14 survey, a higher proportion of people reported giving in the month prior to interview: 75% in 2013/14 and 74% in 2012/13. The CAF survey report ascribes this difference to the fact that that the Community Life survey includes some donations not explicitly covered by the CAF survey (e.g. giving to people begging on the street) and also does not include an initial screening question.
Patterns of charitable giving by gender, age and social grade have been more consistent between the two surveys and through time. Women were again more likely than men to make charitable donations; 43% of women reported giving money compared with 38% of men according to the CAF survey. Only 26% of younger people (aged 16-24) reported donating money in 2014 compared to 44% and 48% of older people (aged 45-64, and 65 or more respectively). People in managerial and professional occupation groups were most likely to donate money in 2014 (57%) compared with those in intermediate and in routine and manual occupation groups.
The causes to which people give follow a consistent pattern
In 2014, as in all previous years of the UK Giving survey, medical research was the cause supported by the largest proportion of donors (33%), followed by children and young people, and hospitals and hospices (30% and 25% respectively). These three causes were also the most common in the Community Life survey. However, in actual monetary terms, religious causes attracted the largest overall share of donations, receiving 14% of all money donated.
Donations worth £1 million or more have increased in number but not in value
The Coutts survey is a separate survey that focuses on donations worth £1 million or more. The latest report found that in 2013 the total value of such charitable donations was £1.36 billion. Although million pound donations increased from 197 in 2012 to 292 in 2013, the total value of the donations was almost the same as in 2012 (£1.35 billion). This was because the size of the average million pound donation in 2013 was lower than in previous years, possibly linked to an increase in first-time donors who are more likely to give nearer the lower end of the scale. As in previous years, higher education and charitable trusts and foundations were the main destinations for million pound donations, together attracting almost two-thirds (64%) of the total value.
Only a small proportion of organisations receive legacy income
Legacies, which can be defined as ‘an amount of money or property left to someone in a will’, totalled £2.04 billion in 2012/13, accounting for 11% of income from individuals and 5% of total income.
Overall, just 12,043 organisations (8.4%) received legacy income in 2012/13, with recipients receiving £169 on average.
Over the last decade, legacy income to the sector has fluctuated in real terms between £1.9 billion and £2.4 billion.
- UK Giving 2014, CAF, April 2015
- UK Giving 2012/13- an update, CAF, March 2014
- This is based on grossing up the proportion of people giving to the estimated total population, and multiplying by the average amount given.
- The accounts information relates only to registered charities and excludes organisations in the wider civil society, which individuals might include in their reported giving. The amounts classified as ‘donations’ in the accounts are correctly included; it is more debatable whether the amounts classified as ‘fundraising’ should (all) be included. In the survey of individuals, there is sampling error around both the proportion of people reporting giving and the amounts reported. Both measures are also susceptible to social desirability error and recall error, the latter particularly likely for occur for the amounts given.
- For details of the methodological differences and adjustments see the 2014 report  and the 2012/13 report 
- Community Life Survey 2013 to 2014: statistical analysis, Cabinet Office, July 2014
- Giving of Time and Money Findings from the 2012-13 Community Life Survey , Cabinet Office & TNS-BMRB July 2013
- The Million Dollar Donors Report 2014, Coutts The survey includes grants from foundations, and gifts from companies as well as donations from individuals
- UK charity tax relief statistics commentary: 1990 to 2015