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Charities spend £1,500 per second improving lives, new analysis shows

9 February 2017

More than £1,500 is spent every second on charitable services in England and Wales, according to new analysis published today.

Every day, charities spend £136.4 million – equivalent to £1,578 per second – improving lives and supporting communities.

The analysis, carried out by four major charity organisations, highlights the huge role charities play in many aspects of our everyday lives. This ranges from the £500,000 spent every  hour by medical research, hospital and rehabilitation charities to the  £11 million spent every day by housing charities and associations keeping a roof over people’s heads to the 800 cats rescued every week by animal welfare charities.

There are more than 160,000 charities in England and Wales. The largest six per cent of these alone spend £49.8 billion a year on delivering services and supporting causes. Much of this is only possible due to the generosity of public donations, and charities’ trading activity.

On top of that, around 2.29 billion hours each year are given by volunteers – worth £16.5 billion if that time was paid at the rate of the Living Wage

With more than 4 in 5 people (83%) having benefited from a charity services in the past year, the role of charities, how they are run and the way in which they are regulated are never far from the spotlight.

ACEVO, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the Institute of Fundraising and CharityComms today publish a report, called ‘Charity Today’ aimed at giving people a better understanding of the contribution made to public life by charities as well as giving an insight into how they operate and how they are changing.

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May last month outlined a vision for a ‘Shared Society’ in a speech given to the Charity Commission. Charity leaders are urging government to work in tandem with charities to deliver it.

John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said:

“Charities are the backbone of Britain. Every day they improve the lives of millions of people, and they are one of the parts of society that make Britain the great country it is today.

“We are among the most generous countries in the world. From medical research and treatment to heritage, social care to supporting children, virtually everyone in Britain benefits from the work of charities even if they don’t realise it.

“Today’s research reminds us that charities play a pivotal role in so many parts of society. Without their work, Britain would be a poorer place.”

ACEVO Chief Executive Vicky Browning said:

“Charities measure their success by the good they do, not the profits they make. As organisations driven by values, it's vital we operate to high standards and with real transparency. In recent times, poor processes and poor practice have been revealed in some areas of the charity sector. It's right that charities respond to this - and they have.

“But while legitimate criticism is healthy, there's a danger of letting it tarnish our sense of the value of charities, disproportionately damaging their worth and ability to function. We mustn't lose sight of the huge contribution charities make in so many areas of daily life, and to the nation as a whole.”

Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said:

“Charities play an essential role in our communities and enrich all of our lives, but they can only do this with the continuing generosity of the British public.

“Fundraising – engaging people in a cause, telling people about the charity’s work and asking for their support – is at the heart of what charities are about. As we see the demand for charity services increasing in the years to come, and other sources of income reduce, donations from the public become even more important."

John Grounds from CharityComms said:

“Charities – both large and small – play a huge part in our national life, but one that’s often unnoticed or taken for granted. This report shows just a fraction of the value charities and the people that work and volunteer for them bring to our communities. This goes far beyond monetary contribution to include substantial benefits to the health and wellbeing of our society.”

Download the report 'Charity Today 2017'.
 

Notes to editors


1 Using Charity Commission data the Charities Aid Foundation identifies the total amount spent on charitable activities as £49.8 billion a year. It is to be noted that CAF’s analysis only looks at charities in England and Wales with an income of over £500k per year – accounting for only around 10,000 of the 164,000 registered charities. This subset was chosen as it is only charities over this threshold which are required to report their finances at the level of detail required to carry out this analysis.
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