Individual giving to charities increased by £945m in 2010/11, but the voluntary sector on the whole barely managed to grow in real terms as inflation ate away at minor improvements.
The NCVO Civil Society Almanac, released today, also shows that while the sector was steady in real terms, charities cut spending for only the second time on record and by the largest margin since 1996. Inflation meant that a £2bn increase in income to £38.3bn was, in real terms, flat; meanwhile charities cut costs by a real terms figure of £800m.
NCVO blamed rising costs for the cut to spending, but 2010/11 also featured the first fall in voluntary sector workforce numbers since records began in 2000. Some 33,000 jobs were lost in the voluntary sector between 2009/10 and 2010/11, bringing the total workforce down to 732,000.
But there is good news, too.
Total giving by individuals increased by nearly £1bn; a £600m increase in donations and £390m rise in trading income offsetting a fall in legacies. This good news on individual giving for 2010/11 is remarkably different to the trend reported in the NCVO/Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving report, released last November, which estimated a £1.7bn real terms fall in individual donations in the year 2011/12.
Accounting for the difference in trends reported across the two reports, NCVO head of policy, research and foresight Karl Wilding emphasised that the two reports cover different financial years, and that the next Almanac was likely to find a drop in individual giving.
Wilding told civilsociety.co.uk that the reports measured different things, but tend to relate to each other. "We've found in the past that the trend lines track in the same direction," he said. "I will expect when we do the next Almanac it shows a decline."
Three causal areas – medical research, hospitals and hospices, and children and young people – accounted for 86 per cent of all donations, according to the Almanac.
Elsewhere in charity income generation, funds from government were steady and remained the largest contributor to charity coffers in the UK. Four-fifths of income from government comes in the form of contracts and fees for services provided by charities, continuing the trend over the past decade of declining grant income and rising contract income from government at all tiers.
There was a sense of recovery in charity assets, which tipped the scales at over £100bn for the first time since the economic crisis began. Still off the pre-crash heights, assets in the sector are now worth £101bn in cash terms, with investment assets back up to £68.9bn.