Executive summary

The voluntary sector is a vital part of the fabric of a strong society in the UK. There are more than 160,000 organisations that make up the sector which are incredibly diverse and represent a range of sizes, aims and activities.The value of the UK voluntary sector to the wider economy – its Gross Value […]


The UK Civil Society Almanac is now in its 15th edition. It brings together data from charities’ accounts, administrative data and surveys to provide a comprehensive overview of the structure and economy of the UK voluntary sector. In so doing it offers invaluable insights into the ways in which the sector is experiencing growth and […]

Fast facts

Get the latest facts on voluntary sector organisations, workforce, charitable giving and volunteering

The Children and Young People’s Voluntary Sector

Once again, we have produced a financial analysis of the children and young people’s voluntary sector in England, based on the latest Almanac data from 2013/14. Within the report, we analysed two populations: The ‘core’ population – Organisations for whom children and young people are the primary beneficiaries. The ‘wider’ population – Organisations for whom […]

Size and scope

Number of UK voluntary organisations by country, 2012/13
Distribution of voluntary organisations and their financial characteristics by region and UK country, 2012/13


Overview The number of charities in an area largely mirrors how many people live there. However some areas have a higher density of charities to number of people than others. Scotland has more charities per thousand of the population than other parts of the UK.  In England, the South West has the highest number of […]

Economic Value

The nature of the voluntary sector’s finances and the available data make it difficult to quantify the sector’s value to the wider economy. The sector’s contribution can be measured in terms of its spending, the people it employs or the contribution that volunteers make.   Economic value as measured by GVA The contribution of different […]

A focus on small charities

  It’s Small Charity Week and time to recognise and reflect on the work of smaller charities. A recent report published by IPPR North highlighted the importance of small charities in wider society, arguing that they are most likely to be rooted and embedded in communities, often engaging with local problems and the hardest to […]

Volunteering rates and overview

Volunteering overview Some data are available on this topic for 2015/16 from the Community Life survey. Reported statistics are from the 2014/15 survey unless stated otherwise. This page will be updated with full 2015/16 data when available. 14.2 million people formally volunteered at least once a month in 2014/15. Rates of volunteering are mostly unchanged […]

Volunteer Profiles

Overview Some data are available on this topic for 2015/16 from the Community Life survey. Reported statistics are from the 2014/15 survey unless stated otherwise. This page will be updated with full 2015/16 data when available. There are no gender differences in rates of formal volunteering between men and women; however more women than men […]

Volunteer Activities

Organisations supported Sports organisations and groups attract the most volunteers Just over half (54%) of those who had formally volunteered at least once in the last 12 months had given unpaid help to groups/clubs/organisations involved in sport/exercise. Other organisations to which formal volunteers had given unpaid help included those related to hobbies/recreation/arts/social clubs (36%) and […]

Motivations and barriers to volunteering

Motivations to volunteering People give multiple reasons for volunteering Among those who had formally volunteered at least once in the last 12 months, the most frequent reasons given for volunteering were to improve things/help people (60%) and that the cause was important to me (36%). Less frequently mentioned reasons included: to get on in my […]

Volunteer Infrastructure

Data on the voluntary sector The Annual Return of Volunteer Centres, undertaken by the Institute for Volunteering Research, is the best source of data on the state of the Volunteer Centre network in England. Unless otherwise stated, data in this section are drawn from the latest Annual Return, which reports on the 2013/14 financial year. […]

Finance overview

Overall income and spending     Between 2012/13 and 2013/14, both the income and the spending of the voluntary sector increased, the first notable net growth since the peaks of 2007/08 and 2009/10 respectively. After adjusting for inflation (RPIX), total income has increased by just over £2.4bn to £43.8bn. Total income now exceeds the ‘peak […]

Income sources

Voluntary sector income can be broken down and analysed in different ways.There are two main types of voluntary sector income: earned and voluntary. These income types come from five main sources: individuals, government, voluntary sector, private sector and the National Lottery.In addition there is income from investments (the proceeds generated from investments and cash balances). […]


Workforce overview The voluntary sector employs over 800,000 people 827,000 people were employed in the voluntary sector in the UK by June 2015. This figure represents an overall increase of nearly 6,000 since March 2014, although the precise figure has fluctuated somewhat during this time. By comparison, the public sector employed 7.1 million staff, an increase of nearly 55,000 […]

Income from individuals

Income from individuals comprises voluntary income (including donations and legacies) and earned income (including sales of merchandise and fees for events or services). In 2013/14, income from individuals amounted to £19.4bn, representing 44% of the sector’s income. For more information on different types of income, see Income sources.   Income from individuals overview Income from […]

Income from government

The definition of government used here covers any statutory body, including central government departments, local authorities, devolved and regional government, the EU and international governments, town and parish councils, NHS Trusts and a range of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). Generally transactions are simply between the statutory authority and the voluntary organisation, but more complex relationships […]


Types of voluntary sector spending The Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) requires organisations with an income over £250,000[1] to report their spending using activity-based costing and accrual accounting. The 2005 SORP requires spending to be assigned to one of three categories, the totals of which include all costs related to the activity, including staff costs, and […]

Generating Funds

Costs of generating funds by type According to the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) 2005, the costs of generating funds include all the costs associated with generating income from all sources other than from undertaking charitable activities. The main components of costs within this category are: Costs of generating earned income – this includes […]

Grant Making

  Voluntary organisations can fulfill their charitable aims by financially supporting organisations and individuals through the giving of grants   Overall grant making   The voluntary sector spent a total of £5.3bn on grants in 2013/14, up from just over £5bn in 2012/13, accounting for 13% of overall spending.   Top ten grant makers   […]


Beneficiary groups Voluntary organisations exist to serve many different types of people as well as the environment, across the UK and internationally. The most common beneficiary group by number of organisations was children and young people (28%), but by overall spending it was both children and young people and the general public (both 21%). Research […]

Assets and Reserves

Overview The voluntary sector’s net assets are £105.1 billion, and total gross assets (excluding pension assets) are worth £120.7 billion. The largest charities hold the majority of the sector’s assets: 3% of charities hold 85% of the sector’s assets. 83% of the sector’s assets are tangible fixed assets, and 17% are current assets. The voluntary […]

Liabilities and loans

Overview The sector has £15.6 billion of liabilities – financial obligations or debts – just over half of which is short-term debt. The voluntary sector’s pension deficit, representing the difference between the value of the sector’s pension scheme liabilities and the pension assets needed to cover those liabilities, is £1.7bn. In 2013/14, the voluntary sector […]


Overview The sector’s investment assets were worth £79.3bn in 2013/14, comprising 79% of the sector’s fixed assets and 66% of total assets. Those charities with an income of more than £10m own nearly two-thirds (62%) of the sector’s investment assets. Though the value of the sector’s investment assets has continued to rise in recent years, […]