Charities reported a 5.5 per cent increase in their income in accounts submitted in the year to September, analysis of figures produced by the Charity Commission shows.
The regulator publishes quarterly statistics drawn from all charity accounts filed with the commission during the period.
An analysis of the latest data, which covers accounts filed to September, by Chris Harris, a partner at the accountancy firm MacIntyre Hudson, found that total income of all kinds in accounts filed during the year rose by £3.2bn to £58.9bn compared with the previous 12 months.
Most accounts cover the year to March 2011, the year to December 2011, or the year to March 2012.
This means the latest accounts cover the same period as an analysis by CAF and the NCVO, which found a 20 per cent drop in giving. But many accounts included in the analysis cover the year before, when the same analysis recorded a small rise.
The UK Civil Society Almanac 2012, published by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, put the voluntary sector’s total income in 2009/10 at £36.7bn.
This figure does not include data from some organisations that file accounts with the commission but are not traditionally viewed as part of the voluntary sector, such as some housing associations, independent schools and religious organisations.
Harris’s analysis found that all major income streams increased in the period.
The lowest percentage increase was in voluntary income, which rose only 3.6 per cent, or £639m, to £18.2bn. The largest increase was in investment income, which rose 15.7 per cent, or £442m, to £3.26bn.
Harris also found that the balance sheets of charities were still increasing: the value of charitable assets rose by £5.76bn compared with the previous year.
He said the figures showed a sector that, despite the difficult operating environment, was still growing faster than inflation.
"It is helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture as set out by the main points above," he said in his conclusion to his analysis. "The sector is growing and appears to remain in good health."