Membership at ACEVO, the umbrella body for charity leaders, grew by 21% to over 1,400 last year.
ACEVO also achieved a small financial surplus for the second year in succession.
The charity’s annual report, published this week, shows a sharp rise in demand for its services helping chief executives during a crisis.
ACEVO had 1,443 members in March this year, up from 1,195 in March 2019, with a membership retention rate of 81%.
Speaking on a video published at the same time as the annual report, Vicky Browning, chief executive of ACEVO, told members that the retention had improved later in the year after the pandemic struck.
Browning said: “We were expecting a drop in membership. We were expecting people to cut back. We know that when budgets are tight, this is when memberships and subscriptions are the first thing to go.
“But actually, we have not seen that. We have been really pleased with that.
“Our retention rate, at the year to date, is 85%, so it has actually gone up compared to last year.”
Income rising again
The accounts also show that ACEVO had an income of £1.1m and made a surplus of just under £15,000.
This is the second year in succession that the charity has turned a profit, after making more than £100,000 in 2018-19.
ACEVO's income fell for six years in a row between 2011 and 2017.
Earlier this year Browning told Charity Finance magazine: “When I came in [as chief executive in 2017], financially it was in a bit of a pickle. It had lost its focus. It didn’t have a great culture to be honest.”
Spending was also up sharply compared to 2018-19, rising by £206,000 to £1,091,963.
Coping with a crisis
There was a 20% rise in the number of charity leaders coming to ACEVO for its CEOs in a Crisis services, the report says.
As a result, ACEVO says that it plans to conduct “more preventative work” with charity leaders in 2020-21, “to help CEOs before situations reach crisis levels”.
The accounts show that Browning is paid £86,700, the same amount as last year.
She told Civil Society News: “This has been an incredibly tough time for our sector, so I’m really pleased that ACEVO has been able to continue to support our members through this challenging period.
“The information in the annual report largely predates the pandemic, but does show how ACEVO was as well set up as possible as the crisis hit to continue to deliver for our members.”