What is civil society

Civil society has been defined in many ways: as the associational life that brings people together and allows civic values and skills to develop as a set of values associated with the ‘good society’ which aims for social, economic and political progress as a space where debate and deliberation allows the negotiation of the common […]

Income and spending

Income Civil society organisations have an estimated combined annual income of £200.1bn Voluntary organisations make up the largest part of civil society in financial terms, accounting for the largest share of income with £47.8bn. Universities (£30.7bn), employee owned businesses (£30bn), and co-operatives (£23.9bn) are the other major sectors in terms of income. Largest organisations Spending […]


Civil society organisations control substantial assets with an estimated value of £292.5bn. This figure largely consists of fixed assets such as property and investments. It also includes some cash deposits, but excludes the assets of financial services industries (e.g. building societies, credit unions, and friendly societies and mutual insurers), which is mostly comprised of customer […]


Civil society organisations exist to support a wide range of beneficiary groups, not just UK residents but people across the world. They also support many other causes that might directly or indirectly affect an individual’s life. This makes counting and describing the beneficiaries of civil society challenging. From records of organisations that publish beneficiary data, […]


Civil society organisations are major employers in the UK with an estimated 2.3 million people employed as paid staff. This is equivalent to 7% of the total UK workforce in 2014 – more than the workforce of the NHS, the UK’s single largest employer (1.5 million employees), and same as for the construction industry (2.2 million […]


Overview This section draws on many different data sources, including Co-operatives UK, the Building Society Association, the Department for Education, and many more. The data for most civil society organisations is for the financial year 2013/14, except for the data on general charities, which is for 2015/16. To our knowledge, this represents the most up-to-date […]