But there was a larger fall in the charity’s expenditure, down by 11 per cent from £231m to £205m.
The charity says in a review of its accounts that the fall in income can be explained by fewer international emergencies, leading to fewer emergency appeals.
"The Japanese tsunami appeal in 2011 alone resulted in income and expenditure of more than £14m in that year," it says. "The reduced scale of international emergency appeals has led to an overall 6 per cent reduction in our total income and an 11 per cent reduction in our total expenditure."
There was a rise in regular giving to the charity in 2012, from £41m to £46m, and an increase in income from charitable activities – mostly grant and fee income – from £53m to £60m.
The charity says it had £38m of reserves at the end of the year, compared with £41m in 2011, and that it intends to continue spending more than it earned, with an eventual target reserves level of £15m.
"We plan to draw down at least £11m in 2013 and a further £3m in 2014," it says.