Top 10 Almanac 2016 trends

marc-lawsonMarc Lawson is research data assistant at NCVO. He helps maintain the UK Civil Society Almanac database and works on other data-related projects. Marc previously worked for SANDS as a database administrator and as a service administrator for the Disability & Dyslexia Service at the University of the Arts London.


The Civil Society Almanac 2016 contains a detailed analysis of the voluntary sector finances for the financial year 2013/14 but also contains trend data from 2000/01 until 2013/14. I have selected and explained the top 10 of these trends.

1. Total income and expenditure

The voluntary sector’s income and spending has steadily increased since 2000/01, from £30bn to nearly £45bn for both. During this time, the two trends have followed each other except for brief moments where spending has significantly increased on income (2004/05, 2007/08).

2. Income sources

There’s also been a gentle increase in the amount of money charities receive from individuals and government over the same period. There was a dip in 2010/11 in statutory funding but the latest Almanac shows that there’s been something of a recovery.

The reason for the recent upturn in government income has been explained by Charlotte Ravenscroft. All other sources have remained more or less at the same levels since 2000/01.

3. Income type

When looking at type of income, voluntary organisations have been able to increase their incoming resources through what they earn rather than strictly through donations, with £24.1bn being earned in 2013/14 – nearly double that of 2000/01 (£12.2bn). Voluntary income on the other hand has been high but stagnant since 2000/01, and this is the same story for investment income.

4. Income from central and local government

Income from central government and income from local government have followed each other since 2000/01 – local government is the winner here in terms of what is given to charities: Since 2000/01, voluntary organisations have received £74.2bn from local government while receiving nearly £10bn less (£64.6bn) from central sources.

5. Income from contracts and grants

The real story in terms of income from government, however, is the significant branching into two different means of administering statutory funding. As you will see in the chart below, the voluntary sector is now more likely to receive funding through tendering for contracts than by applying for grants. This trend was not seen before 2003/04.

6. Spending on charitable activities

Total spending on grants by voluntary sector organisations has remained consistent since 2000/01. However, spending on charitable activities has gradually increased by over £10bn in this time.

7. Cost of generating funds

The cost of generating funds has more than doubled over the last 14 years, from £2bn to £5.4bn. It’s certainly more expensive than it has been to generate funds for your charity but it’s well worth it (see the Almanac fundraising ratio below).

8. Almanac fundraising ratio

Here’s something fun: the chart below shows the different fundraising ratios that we’ve produced in the Almanac over the last six years, each figure telling us how many pounds, on average, every £1 spent on fundraising activities generates for a voluntary organisation.

On a more serious note, this money is not profit to be spent on overheads but feeds back into the resources that help charities achieve their aims – see Karl Wilding’s response to a misleading report on this issue.

9. Amount spent on grants by voluntary organisations

The history of grant making by voluntary organisations is one of peaks and troughs with a very high peak in 2007/08 (£6.1bn) followed by its lowest value (£4.5bn) in the last 14 years.

10. Expenditure and reserves

As we know, spending has increased steadily since 2000/01 to its current value of £41.7bn, but the story is different for reserves. The main point to take note of here is the rise in reserve value until 2007/08 and the subsequent, rapid decline in 2008/09 with near recovery in 2009/10. See a more detailed report of reserves on our Almanac site.


Head over to the Almanac site to see a full report for financial years 2013/14.


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