Number of charities drops by 17,000 in six years, says Mintel report

But market intelligence company is optimistic about sector growth over the next five years

The number of charities has fallen by almost 17,000 over the past six years, according to the market intelligence company Mintel.

The figure is contained in the organisation’s report on charitable giving, which is published every two years.

It says there were 189,530 registered charities in 2004, compared to 179,369 at the end of 2009, and estimates the figure will have declined further to 172,194 by the end of this year because of mergers and economic hardship.

But it also predicts the number will go up again to 179,073 by 2015 and paints a positive picture of total charitable income over the next five years.

The comprehensive 238-page report is based on face-to-face interviews with a random selection of 2,000 people, research of existing data and online surveys.

The study was conducted in the spring and the report was available for sale in October at £1,695. It was released to the media yesterday.

It says total charitable income increased from £34.9bn in 2004 to £51.7bn in 2009 and estimates it will reach £53.2m by the end of 2010.

Looking further ahead, it predicts overall charitable income will continue to grow to £62.2bn by 2015 with a best-case scenario of £70.4bn and a worst-case scenario of £53.9bn.

Mark Brechin, head of research services at Mintel, said: "Charities have faced tough times with consumers focusing on the essentials during the economic crisis. However, our research reveals that the consumer is committed to donating."

The recent growth in income is mainly due to large charities with income over £10m getting bigger.

"Within an increasingly competitive market the large charities are the best-known amongst the general public and therefore are well-placed to attract donors," the report says.

The report also reveals that trust and transparency are becoming more important issues for donors.

"Many are questioning how much money goes directly to the cause: local charities tend to be trusted more than overseas ones," it says. "Charities must take steps to be open and honest about their spend and where it is allocated."

The report also reveals 86 per cent of people do not like being phoned by charities and 71 per cent do not like being stopped in the street by charity canvassers.

It describes lost Gift Aid as a "crime" caused mainly by an "out-of-date system that is heavily reliant on time-consuming paperwork" and says payroll giving is growing at a "relatively slow pace".

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal is the most popular charity appeal in terms of donations, the report says.

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