Key figures

Number of registered charities in England and Wales: 190,000

Total income: £33.2 billion (2006/07)


Total voluntary income: £13.6 billion (206/07)


Total number of voluntary sector employees: 634,000 (62% full time)



Individual Giving


Income from individuals reached £12.6 billion in 2006/07, from 26.8 million donors. Estimates of average monthly donations range from £26.53 to £31 per month while government funding together with donations and purchases from the public account for 75% of income.


Most supported causes:

  • medical research (20%)
  • hospitals and hospices (14%)
  • children and young people (14%)
  • religion (7%)
  • disability (7%)

Most common methods of giving:

  • cash donations (47% of donors)
  • direct debit (30% of donors)
  • buying goods (25%)
  • raffles (23%)
  • cards/cheques (15%)
  • events (12%)
  • fees (5%)
  • Payroll Giving (4%)
  • other (2%)



(NCVO Civil Society Almanac 2009)




The Charity Commission is the charity regulator and registrar in England and Wales and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) regulates charities in Scotland. However, the Charity Commission does not regulate fundraising. A Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has also been established.
For fundraising, a self-regulatory scheme (run by the Fundraising Standards Board) is in place.  The Institute of Fundraising produces Codes of Fundraising Practice which set the standards for fundraising across a range of fundraising techniques. All of the Codes are available online.


The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) provides the public complaints mechanism of self-regulation. An independent body, the FRSB encourages fundraising organisations to sign up to the scheme and display the ‘FRSB tick’.

Members commit to meeting the standards in the Codes of Fundraising Practice and the Fundraising Promise, as well as to having a robust complaints procedure in place. If members of the public feel that these standards are not being met and they have not received a satisfactory response from the fundraising organisation about their complaint, they may refer this complaint to the FRSB. The FRSB adjudicates complaints against the Institute’s Codes.


In England and Wales, the Office of the Third Sector is the Government department responsible for the fundraising organisations. In Northern Ireland, the Department for Social Development has been the key department for the voluntary sector.


Tax relief

There are a number of tax relief opportunities for fundraising organisations registerd with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC):


  • Gift Aid is the most widely used tax relief and allows fundraising organisations to claim back income tax that has been paid on donations from individuals.
  • Payroll Giving enables donors to make donations straight from their gross salary (before tax has been paid).
  • Relief is also avaialble on gifts of shares and land or property, legacies and gifts by businesses.

Further information about tax-effective forms of giving are available on the Institute of Fundraising website.





A number of research projects have been undertaken to try and understand the effect of the recession on the sector. A six monthly study carried out by the Institute of Fundraising, Charity Finance Directors’ Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP has tracked real changes as well as fundraisers’ and finance directors’ expectations. More information about the results of these reports is available online and show that in many cases, while a downturn has been experienced, this hasn’t been as severe as was expected.


The Charity Commission has also carried out research into the recession, the latest report of which indicated that 59% of charities have been affected by the economic downturn. The largest charities appear to have been affected more than smaller counterparts, while international, health and social services charities seeing the greatest impact.  Further information about the reports is available online.


Further information