Overview

There were 166,001 voluntary organisations in the UK in 2015/16

Our analysis of the sector is based on our “general charities” definition (see methodology) that allows comparison of figures from year to year. Under our definition there were 166,001 voluntary organisations in 2015/16, comparable to last year (165,801) and slightly less than in 2013/14 (166,334).

By size

The voluntary sector’s economy is dominated by larger charities (81% of total income)

  • Voluntary organisations with an annual income of over £1m account for 81% of the sector’s total income yet make up only 3% of the total number of charities.
  • Organisations with an income of £100,000 or less make up 82% of the sector in terms of the number of charities, but account for less than 5% of the total income.
  • A similar pattern is seen with spending.
Proportion of voluntary organisations in the UK by number, income and spending, 2015/16 (%)
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  • The vast majority of the sector continues to consist of small organisations. However, in 2013/14 there was a notable rise in the number of organisations with an income over £100m, which has continued to increase since then.
  • In 2015/16 there were 45 super-major organisations in the UK.
Number of super-major organisations, 2008/09 to 2015/16
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  • Most of the UK’s largest organisations, by income, are organisations that work nationally or internationally. They are predominantly charities that focus on health (including health research), children, disability or international relief. Save the Children International is the UK’s largest charity.
Ten largest general charities in England and Wales by income, 2015/16 (£m)
OrganisationTotal income (£m)
Save the Children International807
Cancer Research UK631
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty523
Oxfam436
The Save the Children Fund408
Wellcome Trust394
Barnardo's299
British Heart Foundation298
The British Red Cross Society271
Marie Stopes International269
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By subsector

In 2015/16, social service provision was the most common activity

Number of organisations and spending (£m) by subsector, 2015/16
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  • The most common charitable activity of voluntary organisations by both number of charities and spending was social service provision, followed by culture and recreation.
  • The largest organisations were most likely to be involved in health (9%) or be an umbrella body (8%).
  • Parent teacher associations (63%) were most likely to be micro organisations, followed by voluntary organisations involved in social service provision (55%).
Subsectors of voluntary organisations by size of organisation, 2015/16 (%)
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Get the data

Access the data on size and scope of the sector here.

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UK Civil Society Almanac 2018 / The Voluntary Sector /Sector overview

Published: 09-05-2018 / Tagged: |

https://data.ncvo.org.uk/a/almanac18/size-and-scope-2015-16/