Richest 10 charities hold 27% of sector’s wealth after assets decline

14 Nov 2023 Research

The 10 richest charities in England and Wales saw their collective net assets decline by £2.51bn in 2022, while the sector’s investments as a whole increased by £9.51bn, according to new research.

Civil Society’s analysis of charities’ accounts with financial years ending 2022 found that the largest 10 organisations saw their collective net assets fall to £67.2bn from £69.7bn a year earlier.

At the same time, the combined assets of all 169,292 registered charities in England and Wales increased to £251bn from £241bn the year before, a collective growth of 4%. 

As a result, the richest 10 charities accounted for 27% of the sector’s wealth for the financial year ending 2022, as opposed to 28% the previous year. 

Charity sector wealth increases by almost £10bn

Despite a decline in assets for many of the richest charities, the charity sector as a whole saw its wealth grow last year.

Some 17 charities had assets worth over £1bn for the financial year ending 2021, but this increased to 21 charities in 2022.

One charity that reported a rise was the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation, which reached £1.00bn in assets from £960m the previous financial year.  

Lloyds Register Foundation saw its investments increase by 48% from £784m to £1.16bn.

Canal and River Trust saw its assets grow by 18% in a year from £881m to £1.04bn.

The number of charities that reported assets of between £1m and £1bn increased by 478 to 7,886 overall for the financial year ending 2022. 

Some 657 more charities (12,995) reported having some assets compared to the previous year, with 229 more registered charities overall.

Wellcome keeps the top spot

Wellcome remained the richest charity with £34.6bn in net assets, but this is a fall from £36.2bn the previous financial year. It comes after the charity reported its lowest investment returns since 2008.  

Despite this decrease, the gulf between the first and second richest charity in England and Wales, the Church Commissioners, remained £25.9bn. 

Garfield Weston Foundation saw its assets fall by over £2bn to £7.19bn last year, making it the third in the sample when it previously held second place. 

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the fourth richest charity, saw its assets fall from £4.38bn last year to £4.35bn this year. 

Leverhulme Trust also saw their net assets decline from £3.59bn to £3.56bn in a year. 

The remaining six charities in the top 10 saw their assets increase.

100 charities account for 48% of the sector’s wealth

Meanwhile, the collective net assets of the 100 richest charities saw a marginal increase of less than a percentage point from £120.1bn to £120.5bn for the financial year ending 2022. 

They collectively hold £120bn, which is 48% of the charity sector’s overall assets despite accounting for 0.05% of the charities registered in England and Wales. 

The data suggests that overall, rich charities are maintaining their wealth against fluctuating global markets and high inflation.

For the purposes of this research, a charity’s net assets are defined as its total assets minus its liabilities. 

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