Charity Monitor 2008 compiles the income, spending, fundraising and grant-making trends of the UK's top 300 charities in 2006/07, including a detailed breakdown by cause.
Health causes claimed the largest share of fundraised income, with 23 per cent of the total, worth £1,047m. This compares with £970m the previous year. Faith charities came in second with 18 per cent, followed by international causes (17 per cent) and social care charities (16 per cent).
But researchers found that excluding Cancer Research UK put religious causes in the lead, with health taking fourth place.
"I think the religious donations are growing because we have a much more diverse population with many more kinds of faith and new traditions of giving," said Cathy Pharoah, visiting professor at Cass Business School and author of the report. "This is a growth area we will be interested in keeping an eye on."
Religious causes raised £837m in 2007, an increase of 1.5 per cent on the previous year, followed by £784m raised by international charities - a decrease of 10.7 per cent, which is attributed to the end of appeals for the Asian tsunami. Figures showed an increase of nearly 25 per cent in the amount raised for the arts, which was thanks to a one-off legacy gift of £44m to the Royal Society.
In the health category, hospices saw a 10 per cent rise in fundraising, and hospital and mental-health causes saw falls.
Pharoah said that mental health and disability charities were struggling particularly hard for donors, but charities in general could start to feel the pinch. "The fundraising environment is getting tougher, and people are going to be more selective about what they support," she said. "They are going to want to ensure their money is well used."