Geographical distribution of organisations
England is home to more than 80% of UK voluntary organisations
Voluntary organisations are not distributed evenly throughout the UK. England has the highest number for any of the four countries (133,380), representing 80% of all UK charities. This broadly follows the population patterns for the UK, with similar ratios of the number of voluntary organisations per 1,000 people being seen across the country (with the exception of Scotland, which has 3.6 charities per 1,000 people).
Half of all English charities are based in the south
- The two English regions with the greatest number of voluntary organisations are the South East (24,858) and London (24,238); along with those in the South West, they make up 50% of all English voluntary organisations.
- The North East has the fewest (4,492). There is a less marked difference in the number of voluntary organisations per 1,000 people, but the North East has approximately half the number (1.7 per 1,000 people) of the South West (3.2).
Field of operations (local, national, overseas)
Most voluntary organisations operate at the local level
In general, voluntary organisations that operate predominantly within a region are classed as local charities. Those that do most of their work outside the UK are classed as overseas charities. The geographical level at which voluntary organisations operate varies according to their size. A higher proportion of smaller organisations operate at the local level (around 80%) and a smaller percentage nationally and overseas. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of major voluntary organisations operate at the national and overseas level, while this is the case for nearly all (98%) of those in the super-major category.
Countries being the main focus of charities
India is the country most commonly identified as the focus of operations for UK charities that work overseas and Commonwealth countries also feature highly on the list.
Distribution of voluntary organisations across rural and urban areas
Comparable numbers of charities operate in rural areas and urban areas, but within urban areas charities are concentrated in major urban centres
- Overall numbers of urban and rurally-based charities are comparable, with 70,966 charities based in areas defined as urban and 60,894 in areas defined as rural.
- However, across England there are more charities based in major urban areas than in any other area classification (where “major urban” is defined as districts with either 100,000 people or 50% of their population in urban areas with a population of more than 750,000). In particular, three out of five of the areas with the highest number of charities are in London (City of London, Westminster and Camden).
By contrast when accounting for local population, major urban areas only have the fourth highest proportion of charities (2.1 per thousand people) after all rural areas.
|Areas with the fewest charities per thousand people||Areas with the most charities per thousand people|
|Stoke-on-Trent (0.9)||City of London (117.6)|
|Knowsley (0.9)||Westminster (10.6)|
|Wigan (0.9)||Camden (7.1)|
|South Tyneside (0.9)||Eden (6.8)|
|Blackpool (0.8)||Cotswold (6.7)|
Across England and Wales, charities in urban areas overall tend to receive more money, with more than three times the income of charities in rural areas. For 2014/15 the average income of charities in rural areas was £131k compared to an average of £445k for charities in urban areas.
|Number of charities||Income (£ millions)||Average income (£)|
Although overall numbers of charities are slightly higher in areas of low deprivation, income is greater in more deprived areas
We use the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) to quantify levels of deprivation across the UK, which incorporates indices on areas such as employment, health, education, crime and housing. Numbers of charities are broadly comparable across areas of high and low deprivation, although there are slightly more charities based in less deprived areas both in terms of overall numbers and relative to population. In the 50% least deprived areas there is an average of 13,455 charities, equating to 2.8 charities per thousand people, whereas in the 50% most deprived areas there are 12,917 charities, or 2.1 per thousand people.
However, this relationship is reversed when we look at income and the relative difference is also greater. Charities based in deprived areas receive almost double the income of those in more affluent areas, with £25.8bn of income received by charities in the 50% most deprived areas compared with £13.8bn received by charities in the 50% least deprived areas.
Geographical distribution of voluntary organisations according to size
London has the highest proportion of larger voluntary organisations for any English region
The different English regions tend to have a broadly even distribution of voluntary organisations according to their size. However, London contains the highest percentage for any region of larger voluntary organisations, with 7% of its charities having an annual income of more than £1m compared to 2-3% for other regions. Half of the charities with an income of more than £10m are in London.
Distribution of sector assets / wealth
Voluntary organisations in London account for half the income of the sector in England and around two-thirds of the value of charitable assets in the country
London dominates in terms of the total annual income of voluntary organisations based there (making up 47% of the total income of all English voluntary organisations) and the assets that they hold (making up 68% of the total). This reflects the large number of voluntary organisations based there but is only partially explained by this as London has a similar number as the South East (24,238 compared to 25,858) but has more than three times its income and assets worth more than eight times. Much of the income of London voluntary organisations would, however, be distributed outside of the region due to the larger number of major charities that are headquartered in London but have a regional and international presence.
Income source variation by region
Income from individuals is proportionally the most important source of income for voluntary organisations
For all regions, with the exception of the North West, the biggest source of income is from individuals, the highest being for the South West (57%). The proportion of income received from government varies across regions from the lowest in the East of England (26%) to the highest in the North West (42%). This is potentially reflective of a wider geographical trend: the three regions with the lowest proportion of their income coming from government are in the south of England, and the four with the highest are in the north and the Midlands. London has the highest proportion of income from investment (9%) for any region.
Voluntary organisations in Yorkshire and Humber saw the greatest percentage decrease in government funding
The majority of regions have experienced small percentage increases in the amount of government funding they receive. The East Midlands and the East of England saw small percentages decreases, whilst Yorkshire and the Humber saw a notable decrease of 11%.
- These classifications are defined by ONS (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/geography/products/area-classifications/rural-urban-definition-and-la/rural-urban-local-authority–la–classification–england-/index.html) as follows:
- major urban: districts with either 100,000 people or 50% of their population in urban areas with a population of more than 750,000
- large urban: districts with either 50,000 people or 50% of their population in one of 17 urban areas with a population between 250,000 and 750,000
- other urban: districts with fewer than 37,000 people or less than 26% of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns
- significant rural: districts with more than 37,000 people or more than 26% of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns
- rural-50: districts with at least 50% but less than 80% of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns
- rural-80: districts with at least 80% of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns