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Joined: 09/03/2009
kevin's picture
Joined: 09/03/2009

Sector gets nearly as much from government as from individuals, according to NCVO

Umbrella body's latest UK Civil Society Almanac says sector got £12.8bn from government grants and contracts in 2007/08

The voluntary sector now gets almost as much money from government sources as it does from individuals, according to the latest almanac from the NCVO<.

The UK Civil Society Almanac 2010, published today, is updated with figures from the 2007/08 financial year, which pre-date the beginning of the recession.

It shows that voluntary organisations received £12.8bn from government grants and contracts in 2007/08, compared with £13.1bn from individual donations and membership fees.


But income from individuals remained static compared with the previous year, while income from statutory sources rose by nearly £1bn.

Since 2000, statutory funding increased by 53 per cent, and funding from individuals by 40 per cent. Together they accounted for three-quarters of the voluntary sector's £35.5bn annual income in 2007-8.

Income from government contracts was worth £9.1bn in 2007/08, an increase of 128 per cent since 2000/01. Grant income was worth £3.7bn.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said the figures demonstrated why the sector should not be viewed as a soft target for public sector spending cuts. "Central and local governments have rightly recognised and made greater use of the voluntary sector's knowledge and expertise, particularly at a grass-roots level," he said.

"We know there will be severe cuts in public spending in the coming months. But we should not be seen as a cheap or fluffy addition to core public services. Our work is with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities in the country, and they stand to lose the most if vital services are cut."

The almanac also shows that larger charities are the most reliant on government funding. Only 13 per cent of all charities got more than half their funding from government, with 78 per cent receiving no government funding at all.

Employment and training charities got by far the largest proportion of their income - 70 per cent - from statutory sources. The next highest were education and law and advocacy charities, which both received 51 per cent of their income from statutory sources.

The almanac also hows that:

  • Earned income continued to be higher than voluntary income, as it had been since 2002/03, but the gap narrowed.
  • Charitable spending accounted for £23bn of the £32.8bn total income in 2008
  • Spending on governance was up slightly year on year, but fell overall from £1.9bn to £734m a year between 2001/02 and 2007/08.
  • The sector had total net assets of £97bn. £53bn of those assets were owned by London-based charities.
  • The voluntary sector workforce grew by 23 per cent between 1999 and 2008, compared with growth of 18 per cent in the public sector and 7 per cent in the private sector.
  • People with degrees accounted for 38 per cent of the sector workforce, compared with 37 per cent in the public sector and 19 per cent in the private sector.<

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We want decision-makers to understand the consequences their decisions have on the voluntary and community sector. But we can't do this in a vacuum: we need to ensure that our policy areas match what's most important to you and that we're fighting for the changes you and your beneficiaries really need.

In July 2011 we started a new, experimental approach to find out what our members think NCVO messages should be to policymakers. We will document our process on this page, so please bookmark it!

Currently discussing: PUBLIC SERVICES. If you want to get involved please send an email to Matt.Gilfeather(at)!

Finding out about your main concerns: the story so far

The first step was to get an overview of your main concerns. For this we created a simple online survey. We had a very good response rate: over 200 responses in a matter of weeks. We also asked for your views on Twitter using the hash tag #tellncvo. The results are summarised in a blog post by Charlotte Stuffins:

The second step was to invite our members to a member only private social network on Yammer to discuss five broad areas (although these don't have to be the end point). They are:

  • Localism
  • Public services
  • Funding 
  • The Good Society (including engagement, value of civil society, campaigning, Big Society etc)
  • Charity law and regulation

For each of these areas we will undertake a process lasting approximately a month: we will consult our members, review our evidence, look at what other organisations are saying/doing on the issue and so on. Then we will get together here at NCVO for each theme and establish our position and key messages.

First topic: Localism

A bit of background:

  • What our members told us about localism< (blog post by Charlotte Stuffins where she summaries the feedback we got from our members via the survey and discussions on our private social network on Yammer. If you feel your views are not included get your invitation to the Yammer network from Matt Gilfeather<!)

Second topic: Public service delivery (currently under discussion)

A bit of background:

Get involved!

If you are affiliated with an NCVO member organisation you are warmly invited to take part in this innovative process by joining our private social network on Yammer<. Please email Matt Gilfeather< for an invitation!<