Income of 20 largest charities has grown by £2.1bn over two decades

06 Jul 2017 News

The 20 largest charities in the UK in 1996 have grown their income by 60 per cent in real terms in the last two decades, new analysis for Charity Finance magazine has shown.

Charity Finance, published by Civil Society Media, began collecting data on the income of the largest charities in 1996 to track their performance for the Charity Finance Index, now sponsored by haysmacintyre. We recently carried out a closer analysis of how the top 20 charities from 1996 have fared. 

The analysis found that the most successful charities from 20 years ago were all still among the largest in the UK today. But their collective income has grown from £3.5bn to £5.6bn.

This is despite changes to accounting treatments for investment, which appear to have led to big falls in annual income for the Wellcome Trust and the Church Commissioners. In reality, these charities have seen significant growth in the value of their portfolios.

All but these charities and Scope have seen their income rise in real terms.

Scope’s income has fallen by 32 per cent in real terms to just under £95m.  During the period the charity has undergone a number of changes, with no single factor to blame. 

Nuffield Health saw the most growth, with its income increasing by over £500m. Over the period the charity went from being a hospital charity to having a broader remit after acquiring gym chains. 

Others that saw large increases, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Save the Children, have also been involved in mergers with other charities. 

The overall growth of 60 per cent compares favourably to the wider economy, which grew by just under 50 per cent during the same period. 

Top 20 charities income over time 

  1. Wellcome Trust – income fell 23 per cent to £438.7m
  2. Church Commissioners for England  - income fell 44 per cent to £148m 
  3. Nuffield Health – income rose 220 per cent to £756.2m 
  4. National Trust – income rose 65 per cent to £521.8m 
  5. British Red Cross – income rose 66 per cent to £273.4m
  6. Oxfam – income rose 75 per cent to £395.9m
  7. Mencap – income rose 32 per cent to £191.3m
  8. Barnardo’s – income rose 89 per cent to £293m
  9. Save the Children – income rose 162 per cent to £375.9m 
  10. Salvation Army – income rose by 68 per cent to £292.1m
  11. Girls’ Day School Trust – income rose by 73 per cent to £210m
  12. Royal Opera House – income rose by 23 per cent to £141.6m
  13. Leonard Cheshire Disability – income rose by 40 per cent £159.1m
  14. RNLI – income rose by 60 per cent to £191.4m 
  15. Cancer Research UK – income rose 143 per cent to £635.2m 
  16. Scope – income fell 32 per cent to £94.5m 
  17. RNIB – income rose 31 per cent to £122.7m 
  18. Action for Children – income rose 76 per cent to £160.4m 
  19. Macmillan Cancer Support – income rose by 211 per cent to £228.5m 

There has been relative stability in the composition of the Index, with just six have slipping out of the top 20 and all of them remaining within the top 50 of the most recent index. 

Seven charities have entered the top 20. Four of these have moved up from lower in the 100 index, while three did not have enough income to qualify for the index in 1996. One, the Canal & River Trust, was only formed in 2012, having previously been a government body. 

Subscribers to Charity Finance magazine can read the full analysis here. 


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