An analysis of the first 786 charities to register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland shows that three-fifths list education among their purposes, seven in 10 have annual incomes of less than £100,000 and just over half are unincorporated associations.
The CCNI came into being in 2009 and began its registration regime in December 2013, under which all charities, including universities and other organisations that would be exempted from registration in England and Wales, have to register.
A report published today by the regulator analyses the information held about the first 786 charities to join, all of which were registered by 19 January.
Of those, 62 per cent list the advancement of education as one of their charitable purposes, with the next most popular being the "relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage" (36 per cent of charities), the advancement of citizenship or community development (34 per cent) and the advancement of health or the saving of lives (27 per cent).
The general public is listed as a beneficiary of 49 per cent of the charities, and 42 per cent list youth (14 to 25-year-olds) as beneficiaries – the same number again list children. Older people are designated as beneficiaries of 33 per cent of the group.
The report breaks down the income of the 603 charities that provided the CCNI with annual income figures for the past year – the rest were recently formed and could not provide figures on registration.
In analysing the income spread, the report factors out one "very large outlier" – the University of Ulster, which registered in August 2014 and had income for the year to 31 July 2013 of £191.7m.
The other 602 charities had a combined income of £111.6m, of which 65 per cent came from the 9 per cent of the group whose incomes were more than £500,000; 70 per cent of these charities had incomes of less than 100,000.
The report says that 53 per cent of the charities are unincorporated associations and 36 per cent are charitable companies – meaning they are registered with Companies House and the CCNI.
A further 9 per cent are charitable trusts and 3 per cent have other forms, including as royal charter charities and industrial and provident societies.
The report says that 53 per cent of trustees are male, although men make up only 48 per cent of Northern Ireland’s adult population, and only 1 per cent of trustees are aged under 24; 38 per cent are over 60. The average trustee board has 7.1 members, the report says.
A further 372 charities have registered since the 19 January cut-off for the report, bringing the total on the register as of today to 1,158. The CCNI says it estimates there are a total of between 7,000 and 9,000 organisations in Northern Ireland that it will need to register as charities.