Trends & data analysis

19p of every pound donated in the UK goes to just 13 charities

29 November 2017

The income of the UK’s largest charities continues to dwarf the rest as collectively they represent nearly 20% of the total amount of money raised through fundriasing...

The 25 UK-based charities with the largest annual incomes are, in financial terms, in a class of their own. The same 10 organisations have occupied the top 10 positions (although there has been movement within the group) since 2014; and the total income and fundraising income of these organisations account for a disproportionately large share of the annual income of the third sector, according to data from Charity Financials.

The list is headed by Save The Children International, which had an annual income of £1,072.012 million (£1.072 billion) in 2016, up from £698.848 million in 2014. This growth has come almost entirely from fundraising income (all voluntary income minus that from government source, plus event fundraising and sales of donated goods) which totalled nearly the entire amount at £1,070.512 million (£1.07 billion). However, much of this income originates in donations made outside the UK. Its partner organisation, Save The Children UK, has held the ninth position in the list each year since 2014, and had an income of £404.525 million in 2016.

The British Council, which delivers cultural and educational projects worldwide, is in second place, having topped the list in 2014 and 2015. None of its £979.639 million annual income comes from fundraising: 85% is generated through services provision, with the remaining 15% provided via grant-in-aid funding from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Nuffield Health is at number three: a not-for-profit healthcare organisation with a network of hospitals, clinics and fitness clubs and an annual income of £839.6 million.

There is a significant gap in income between these three organisations and the first of what the general public would probably recognise as a ‘conventional’ UK charity: Cancer Research UK, which has occupied fourth place in the list since 2014. Its income was £679.2 million in the year ending March 2017, up from £665.5 million in 2014. Fundraising income has increased at a faster rate over the same period, from £415.6 million to £495.4 million.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which provides a range of services to charities and donors all over the world and is the parent organisation of CAF Bank, is in fifth place, with an annual income of £604.747 million. It is one place ahead of the UK’s largest membership organisation, the National Trust, which has an annual income of £522.165 million.

Outside the top ten, the Anchor Trust, a not-for-profit provider of housing and care services for older people, may be the organisation to watch. It was in 15th place in 2014, but is now 11th and its income jumped from £288.514 in 2015 to £371.317 in 2016. The organisation is currently expanding, building 900 new properties over four years. It is only £18 million behind 10th place.

In total, the combined annual incomes of the top ten charities is £6.42 billion – a sizeable chunk of the total annual income of all 167,000 registered UK charities, which was £73.107 billion in December 2016, according to the Charity Commission, including £52.647 billion contributed by the 2,201 charities with annual incomes of more than £5 million.

Even more remarkably, the total amount of money raised through fundraising by 13 of these organisations (not including the fundraising income of Save The Children International and CAF) was £1.865 billion in 2016. Total giving to charities in the UK during 2016 was £9.7 billion, according to CAF’s UK Giving Report 2017. Just 13 organisations receive 19p out of every £1 donated to charity in the UK.



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David Adams

David is a freelance journalist and associate at Slack Communications. 

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