Voluntary organisations can fulfil their charitable aims by financially supporting organisations and individuals through the giving of grants. In 2012/13, just over 28,000 voluntary organisations made grants and spent a total of £4.6 billion doing so.

A small group of very large grant-makers dominate

Unsurprisingly, the voluntary organisations that make the most grants are grant-making foundations, followed by research organisations. Together they account for almost 60% of the total grant expenditure of the voluntary sector.

The ten largest grant makers by total expenditure on grants (£ millions)
Charity NameSpending on grantsTotal SpendingNet assets
Wellcome Trust59387016,737
The Charities Aid Foundation378407998
Cancer Research UK203540313
The Save the Children Fund15930994
British Heart Foundation118313-31
Save the Children International11355621
The British Council106880357
Charity Projects103126138
The Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity94119209
The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (UK)68982,445
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Source: NCVO, Charity Commission
Note: figures are taken from the latest available accounts as of May 2015

Grant-making is highest amongst major organisations, with almost one in three major organisations (31%) making grants, and lowest amongst medium sized organisations (13%). The 10 largest grant-makers accounted for 43% of the grants made.

The majority of grants are made to other voluntary organisations

Voluntary organisations receive grants worth nearly £2.5 billion from other voluntary organisations. International organisations receive the largest share of grants from the sector (30%), followed by culture and recreation organisations (13%) and social services organisations (13%). International organisations and umbrella bodies are the most dependent on grants made by the voluntary sector, accounting respectively for 21% and 11% of their total income (compared to an average of 6% for the sector as a whole).

Share of grants given by voluntary sector to voluntary organisations, 2012/13 (% of total grants)
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Proportion of grant income by category of voluntary organisation 2012/13 (% of total income)
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Other recipients of grants made by the voluntary sector include Higher Education Institutions and the public sector, but also individuals.

Grant expenditure decreased in 2012/13

The level of grant-making peaked in 2007/08 and then dropped sharply in 2008/09, as the recession hit investment income and the value of assets. Grant-making improved in 2010/11, stayed static in 2011/12, but decreased by 7% in 2012/13. However, grant income from voluntary organisations to other voluntary organisations increased slightly over the same period (+3%). This suggests that the decrease in grant expenditure affected other grant recipients more than the voluntary sector.

Spending on grants by voluntary organisations, grants received from voluntary organisations, 2000/01 to 2012/13 (£ billions)
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UK Civil Society Almanac 2015 / The Voluntary Sector /Spending

Published: 05-06-2015

https://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac15/grantmaking/