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Charity Today 2017

Charity is a broad term - as broad as ‘business’ or ‘government’.

Charities come in a vast array of different shapes and sizes – everything from local groups led by volunteers to complex and sophisticated international development or research organisations.

What ties charities together is the common thread of public benefit and social good. In their different ways they play an essential role in our everyday lives and in our communities. In the past year, 83% of people in the UK have used a charitable service and 8 out of 10 people agree that charities play a vital role in their local community.

Charities provide many essential services, from education to health and social care to community centres and sports clubs. They care for our heritage, bring people together in their communities and work across the globe. They provide the public with ways to directly support the causes people care about through donations and volunteering. But more than that, the collective state of ‘charity’ in the UK says something important about our nation as a whole.

There are over 160,000 registered charities in England and Wales alone and many, many more informal charitable groups.

The overall income of the charitable sector is around £43.8bn, 2.9bn hours are given by volunteers and over £9.6bn was donated by the British public in 2015.

The £29bn of income that today comes from public donations or trade in charity shops, nursery places or cafés would, for example, be enough to buy nine Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

The charity sector spends £1,578 every second or £136.4m a day on charitable activities.

Charities are evolving and adapting to meet new demands; they are responding to the needs of beneficiaries and to the changing external environment. There are many challenges ahead to ensure that charities remain effective, sustainable, relevant to new generations and importantly that they provide value and are valued by the public.

At the same time charities are facing increasing scrutiny from the public, the media, and from the government. The collapse of Kids Company and stories of inappropriate fundraising by some charities has undoubtedly shaken public confidence.

This report provides an overview of the charity sector, how it operates, how it’s changing and what’s going on with charity today.