Fall in voluntary income at the largest 100 charities 

27 Feb 2019 News

The largest 100 charities have recorded a dip in voluntary income, according to figures published earlier this month. 

Latest data from the haysmacintyre / Charity Finance 100 Index appears in the February issue of Civil Society Media's Charity Finance magazine. It shows a dip in voluntary income for the first quarter of 2018, after growth during the previous three quarters. 

The index tracks income streams for voluntary income, charitable activities, gross trading, legacy, and investment. 

Voluntary income is mainly made up of donations, but also includes some other unrestricted income, as explained here. Restricted grants are excluded because they fall under the charitable activities category for the purpose of compiling the Index. 

The combined voluntary income for the top 100 charities was £3.26bn, down from £3.27bn the previous quarter. 

Arts charities appear to have suffered, with double-digit falls in voluntary income at the British Museum, the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum reported in that quarter.

Historically, voluntary income has outperformed all other income streams at the largest charities, and has been less susceptible to drops. 

However, voluntary income fell for three successive quarters, for the first time, in the last two quarters of 2016 and first quarter of 2017. This is likely to have occurred as charities adjusted their fundraising practices following a number of scandals in 2015. The income stream then bounced back over the next three quarters.

Historical drops

The voluntary income sub-stream has fallen on other occasions, although mostly due to results at specific charities.

A sharp drop was recorded for two successive quarters between Q1 2009 and Q3 2009 but this is because the index spiked and then fell again when the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation received a multi-billion endowment. 

There is a similar blip recorded between 1998 and 2000, when the PPP Foundation and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund both joined and then left the Index following large temporary influxes of funding.

A dip in voluntary income was also recorded in 2014, but this was a side effect of the Index's annual membership review, rather than a reflection of any widespread drop in income.

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