Top charities buck sector trend with overall income rise

Top charities buck sector trend with overall income rise

Top charities buck sector trend with overall income rise3

Finance | Jonathan Last | 27 Apr 2012

An analysis of the charities that make up the Charity 250 Index has revealed that the minimum income requirement to be included in this group has increased by 30 per cent over the last year, from £12.5m to £16.8m.

The Charity 250 Index comprises the 101st to 350th biggest UK charities, placed according to their last three years of income performance. At the higher end of this group, maximum income has risen by £4.1m to £49.4m.  The full analysis is published in May’s issue of Charity Finance as well as on

This development follows recent news that the annual aggregated income of the largest 100 UK charities has risen by £355.5m.

This rise for those charities occupying places in the Charity Index 250 has in part been due to an extensive review of eligible candidates, with 58 new entrants.

Help for Heroes, a new entrant at position 104, has seen its annual income more than triple from £14.6m in 2007/08 to £45.7m in 2009/10 – with almost 80 per cent of that through voluntary donations. Hadyn Parry, its chairman, commented: “Despite the economic crisis the British public showed their amazing generosity towards the forces, allowing us to raise a staggering £46m during the year. This was double the previous year which itself was double the first.”

The biggest riser in the Charity 250 Index is the Federation of Groundwork Trusts, which has jumped 41 places from position 57 to 16, the result of an increase in three-year average income from £31.5m to £43.9m. The rise derives mainly from a peak in programme funding in 2010/11.

Other notable risers are Sustrans (up 27 places), Catch22 (up 25), Garfield Weston Foundation (up 24) and Autism Initiatives UK (up 19).

Andrew Hind, editor of Charity Finance, sounded a note of caution: “While celebrating those charities doing well of late, we need to understand the implications of what a loss in income for others might mean – for their beneficiaries and for those they employ.

“We also need to be aware that the recent public spending cuts have only taken place in the last 12 months, and this isn’t yet represented in the latest Index. So yes, let’s celebrate where appropriate, but for many of these charities the environment remains very uncertain.”

New entrants and fallers

The top new entrant to the Charity 250 Index is the National Trust for Scotland, which has fallen from number 98 in the Charity 100 Index to first in the 250.

“Unsurprisingly, the handful of new entrants at the upper end of the 250 Index are mainly relegations from the 100,” said Diane Sim, who compiled the report for Charity Finance. “Conversely, the four top exits from the 250 are promotions into the 100 – particularly impressive progress has been made by Crime Reductions Initiatives (CRI), which moves from third position in the 250 Index to 79th in the 100. This is based on a three-year average income of £56.4m”.

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is the biggest faller in the Charity 250 Index, having moved from 87th to 217th, due to a reduction in three-year average income from £26.6m to £18.1m. The Foundation is heavily reliant on investment income, which has decreased from £31.9m to £10.5m over the last three years.

Declining investment income was also the main factor in the demotion of the second biggest faller in the Charity 250 Index, the Henry Smith Charity. It moves from position 134 to 249, as a result of a drop in three-year average income from £20.4m to £16.8m.

Subscribers to can read Diane Sim's full report here.

Dawn Austwick
Chief Executive
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
1 May 2012

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation spent a record amount on grants last year, with a 30% increase in 2011 to £39.6million. This may surprise you, as Esmee is named above as "the biggest faller.. having moved from 87th to 217th, due to a reduction in three-year average income from £26.6m to £18.1m".

Lower investment income does not necessarily mean that foundations must cut grants.

Our long-term outlook means that we can model our spending differently to investors seeking short-term income returns. At Esmée, we aim to balance the needs of current beneficiaries with those of the future and that can mean choosing, as we have for the last couple of years, to spend more money at a time when need is most great.

Carl Allen
28 Apr 2012

This is not bucking the trend. It is continuing the trend.

Andrew Malin
Assurance Consultant
27 Apr 2012

It is interesting to compare this story with today's update from the Charity Commission publishing one-year tables for the top 50 registered charities in England and Wales - ranked by a range of indicators, including investment values.
One English university and, now they are on the register, the first of what will be at least two Welsh universities are in the top 50 charities by income. And several of the Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge are in the top 50 for investment values.
It is also good to see lists that include the Arts Council (England) and the British Council.


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