Trends & data analysis

Income of UK's top 10 Christian charities exceeds 0.5 billion

07 December 2017

As Christmas approaches, we look how the UK’s biggest Christian charities have fared over the past financial year…

Christmas is a time for giving as well as spending, and over the next few weeks, large amounts of money will be donated to charity. Yet it is worth remembering that each of the Christian charities operating in the UK attract significant financial support throughout the year as they pursue their charitable aims.

The Salvation Army Trust is the UK Christian charity with the largest annual income, according to data submitted to the Charity Commission. Its income was £209.008 million in 2016, including £126.084 million in fundraising income (all voluntary income minus that from government sources, plus event fundraising and sales of donated goods). In addition, its international arm, the Salvation Army International Trust, has the eighth largest income among UK-based Christian charities, at £59.131 million.

Figure 1: Top 10 UK Christian charities by total income and fundraised income

 

 

Christian Aid is second on the list of top 10 Christian charities by income, with its annual income reaching £106.976 million in 2016. However, although its fundraising income was an impressive £62.649 million, this was not enough to secure it second place in the list of top fundraising charities – this position was given to Stewardship Services (UKET) whose fundraising generated £68.362 million, with an annual income of £71.922 million. It provides financial and legal services to charities, including many Christian charities.

Only one of the top ten UK Christian charities has no fundraising income: the Methodist Independent Schools Trust (MIST), which has an overall annual income of £99.868 million. The Trust has been running Methodist independent schools since the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, opened Kingswood School, in Somerset, in 1748. Kingswood is no longer run by the Trust (it is still affiliated to it), but MIST now has responsibility for 14 independent schools in England and Wales. 

International development and child sponsorship charity World Vision has the fourth highest annual income: £95.372 million, including £48.196 million in fundraising income. Tearfund, which seeks to fight poverty worldwide, is fifth, with an annual income of £72.162 million; followed by the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance, a Pentecostal church with more than 550 congregations in the UK and Ireland; and an annual income of £66.483 million. Ninth place in the annual income list is occupied by the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organisation, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, which had an income of £50.478 million in 2016. 

The tenth organisation on the list is Christian Vision, founded in 1988 by the automotive industry businessman Lord Edmiston, who is still its chairman, to bring the gospel to a billion people via the media and educational projects. Its income in 2016 was £43.929 million, although this includes £25 million donated by the IM Group, of which Lord Edmiston is the sole shareholder. 

The combined annual incomes of the top ten Christian charities in the UK is just over half a billion pounds (£520.601 million). Their collective success should remind us that although Christmas in the 21st century can feel like a somewhat secular festival, the British public still have a great deal of faith in the power of Christian charities to do good and useful work, in the UK and beyond.

 

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David Adams

David is a freelance journalist and associate at Slack Communications. 

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