The proportion of registered faith-based charities in England and Wales has grown by four percentage points over the past eight years, according to a new report from the think tank NPC.
Questions of Faith, published today, says that the number of faith-based charities on the Charity Commission’s register has grown by 8,903 – from 23,832 in 2006 to 32,735 in 2014 – to make up 19 per cent of the register in 2014.
The report says that a third of those charities have an annual income of between £100,000 and £500,000.
Seven of the top 50 charities by annual income have some sort of religious belief in their mission, the report says. The figures do not include many church charities, which are excepted from registration with the Charity Commission.
Jessica Nicholls, communications executive and co-author of the report, said faith-based charities had become more visible as the state withdrew from certain areas.
"They are stepping in to fill a number of roles," she said. "This is something they've always been doing, but now they have increased support."
Nicholls said that the people donating to these charities gave disproportionally generously. "For the number that purport to give for these reasons, they give much more generously," she said. "Religious charities care very much about faith-based givers and this acts as a second level of accountability. However, it can be difficult to balance this with trying to diversify funding."
Money for Good, another NPC report published last year, showed that faith-based supporters gave an average donation of £906, the highest of any of the seven categories analysed. The Questions of Faith report says that most faiths have guidance on individual giving – for example, a 2.5 per cent zakat in Islam, 10 per cent tithe in Christianity and 10 per cent tzedakah in Judaism.
Today’s report is a precursor to in-depth research on the subject of faith-based charities that the NPC intends to carry out next year. The topics of this research will be based on feedback to the current report.
NPC defines faith-based charities as organisations that embody some form of religious belief in their mission, founding history or project content. The 2006 figure is based on the Faith and Voluntary Action report from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.