We note down all the latest facts and statistics about the charity sector, looking particularly at how digital is changing the landscape of fundraising, service delivery, volunteering, marketing, finance, cyber security, sustainability, and more
The charity sector has been through a period of drastic upheaval. It has seen huge digital acceleration, shifts in working models, streamlined operations, the arrival of new tech, the optimisation of old tech, and much more – all in the past two years.
The sector is quickly shifting, adapting, changing, and it can feel hard to keep up. Charities are finally settling, thinking about the future, working out digital strategies, and broadly setting their sights on the long-term. To make the right decisions for the future, it’s essential to understand the present.
So, without further ado, we have compiled stats that define the charity sector in the present moment, and we will update these stats with any new ones that we come across.
Skip to: Stats about COVID-19
Skip to: Stats about fundraising
Skip to: Stats about service delivery
Skip to: Stats about volunteers
Skip to: Stats about finance
Skip to: Stats about tech
Skip to: Stats about cyber security
Skip to: Stats about working life
According to Statista, there are 170,383 charities operating in England and Wales as of March 2022, an increase on the previous year when there were 169,779.
According to the Charity Commission’s latest Annual Report, 60% of applicants were successfully registered as a new charity, which shows that there remains a rigorous checking system.
According to figures gathered by the Charity Commission, in 2022 there were 928,143 trustees and 5.2 million volunteers of registered charities in England and Wales.
The latest NCVO Almanac suggests that more people work in the voluntary sector as of September 2020 – a 3% increase on the year before (more than 32,000 additional jobs).
According to the Wood for Trees’ State of the Sector Report, overall income in 2021 was 9% higher than in 2020, rising above the levels of the previous three years.
According to Small Charities Data, most charities are considered small, with estimates suggesting that small charities consist of up to 96% of the non-profit sector, depending on interpretation.
According to the latest NCVO Almanac, while most charities are small, they only make up a tiny proportion of overall income and spending (4% and 5% respectively).
According to Small Charities Data, In 2020, nearly two-thirds of small charities partnered with other charities to achieve their aims. Comparatively, in 2017 less than half of small charities partnered.
According to the Charities Aids Foundation (CAF) Charity Landscape Report for 2022, nearly two thirds (64%) of charity leaders are pessimistic about government support for the sector.
According to the CAF Charity Landscape Report for 2022, the majority of charity leaders (81%) are optimistic about the future of their organisation, but fewer are optimistic about the future of the charity sector in general (50%), which shows an interesting divide.
A survey carried out by the Charity Finance Group (CFC) revealed that 84% of charities don’t have a net zero objective and only 14% currently report on their carbon emissions.
A market research report from IBIS World suggests 25% of charities lost 40% or more of their income in 2020, the hardest hitting year of the pandemic, with up by a £10 billion reduction in the sector.
According to the Charity Commission’s COVID-19 Survey 2021, all charities (91%) in England and Wales have experienced some negative impact from COVID-19, with the biggest impact hitting service delivery (85%) and their financial position (72%).
The Charity Commission’s COVID-19 Survey 2021 also found that a significant minority (34%) of charities expect to generate less revenue from fundraising and donations in 2022.
The Charity Commission’s COVID-19 Survey 2021 also found that access to volunteers has decreased for a third of charities as a result of the pandemic, though that change may have reversed since.
And, according to the above survey, over half (62%) of charities anticipate a threat to financial viability in the next 12 months. Interestingly, though, the majority expect their charity to be in the same or better position overall, which demonstrates a general shift towards long-term thinking.
According to the CAF Charity Landscape Report for 2022, seven in 10 charity leaders (72%) reported that they have introduced, or are planning to introduce, new methods of giving.
According to the CAF Charity Landscape Report for 2022, only two in five charity leaders (41%) are increasingly adopting online fundraising and only a quarter (24%) report having the knowledge to make online fundraising truly effective. That shows that progress is still needed in that regard.
According to the 2021 Charity Digital Skills report, half of charities now see digital fundraising as a priority, which is a massive increase on previous years, showing the shift within the sector.
According to the Donor Pulse Report for Spring 2022, Millennials and Gen Z are currently giving to the widest range of charities, and 48% of the public now feel confident attending fundraising events.
According to the Non-profit Experience Index from Salesforce.org, 86% found it easy to give to charity, but over a third (36%) said they would donate more if it was easier to do so.
The Wood for Trees’ State of the Sector Report found that regular giving remained stable, but repeated donations have started to fall away, which raises issues around long-term viability.
According to the CAF Charity Landscape Report for 2022, three in four charity leaders (75%) stated that demand for their organisation’s services increased over the first year of the pandemic and 86% believed demand will continue to increase. And, according to the above report, charity leaders saw meeting demand for services as the second biggest challenge for charities.
The 2021 Charity Digital Skills report found that the majority of charities are now committed to digital service delivery, with 73% planning to continue delivering in this way and 71% offering them within a hybrid delivery model.
According to the latest NCVO Almanac, in 2020-21, 16.3m people in the UK volunteered ‘formally’ – that is, through a voluntary organisation of some kind. The same report found that half of UK adults volunteered time to help others at least once in the previous year – a trend that is likely to continue.
The latest NCVO Almanac also found that people aged 65-74, women and those from less deprived socio-economic regions are most likely to volunteer with a charity.
According to the Community Life Survey covering the year 2020/21, those over 16 years old who volunteered at least once a month for a formal organisation fell to 17% from 23% in 2019/20, and those who volunteered at least once a year decreased to 30% from 37%.
According to Volunteering Research Hub analysis, a greater proportion of volunteers overall are motivated by a sense of community and willingness to protect neighbours and their community.
According to the Non-profit Experience Index from Salesforce.org, 73% of volunteers felt they received clear communication on what they needed to do before volunteering and 78% said that the experience of volunteering made them feel the organisation was well run. The report broadly demonstrated that charities had a good record keeping their volunteers informed and happy.
According to the CAF Charity Landscape Report for 2022, More than half of charity leaders (58%) say that generating income and achieving financial sustainability is one of their top three challenges, with an increasing number of charities planning to use reserves to cover income shortfalls.
According to the latest NCVO Almanac, the public is, and has always been, the largest source of income for the voluntary sector, contributing £27.1bn or 48% of all income.
According to the latest NCVO Almanac, the voluntary sector spends £46bn a year on delivering its charitable objectives – or about 85% of its spending. The rest is divided between fundraising costs (14%) and governance costs (1%).
According to the 2021 Charity Digital Skills report, charities feel confident about their use of social media, with 31% rating themselves as excellent. Charities are increasingly using social for fundraising, too, which has been seen through various trends, particularly on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
The CAF Charity Landscape Report for 2022 found that the majority of charity leaders (89%) believe technological change is relevant to their organisation, but larger charities are more likely to have invested in tech solutions during the pandemic.
The 2021 Charity Digital Skills report found that over two thirds (67%) of charities said that digital was a priority, but 58% reported that their board has low digital skills or room for improvement.
The same report found that almost half (45%) of charities had to provide their users with devices, data or support to get online or access services, showing the huge challenge of digital inclusion.
According to the Charity Digital and National Cyber Security Centre report, The state of cyber security in the UK charity sector, 66% of organisations report that a cyber attack would likely affect operations, but only 61% have a plan in place in the event of such an attack.
According to The state of cyber security in the UK report, 26% of charities said their attitude towards cyber security had changed due to suffering a cyber attack themselves. The same report found that 78% of trustees said they were unaware of a cyber resilience strategy within their organisation.
According to the 2021 Charity Digital Skills report, just over two thirds (67%) continue to deliver all work remotely, while 41% are collaborating or sharing learnings with others about digital.
According to The state of cyber security in the UK charity sector report, only 5% of charities are using comprehensive cyber security software to protect themselves, with 135 depending entirely on simple antivirus and many others not even depending on that.
According to the latest NCVO Almanac, charity workforces have a disproportionate ratio of female to male staff (67% to 33%), who overall have an older age profile than employees in the private sector. The same report found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic employee numbers are low (9%) compared with other business sectors, remaining so over the past eight years.
According to the 2021 Charity Digital Skills report, diversity seems to be more of a priority, with over half (57%) looking at better representation among decision makers.
From Labour Force Survey data from September 2020, cited in the NCVO Almanac, those aged 16 to 34 make up 27% of the voluntary sector workforce compared to 29% in the public sector and 36% in the private sector.
According to the 2021 Charity Digital Skills report, Just over two thirds of charities (68%) are planning a hybrid model for their working arrangements. According to the same report, only 7% are planning for everyone to return to their office or usual workplace.
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