Fundraised income at top 100 charities 'down by £92m in real terms'

Charity Financials' annual spotlight report says the value fell to £5.8bn in 2018/19, a fall of 1.7 per cent

Fundraised income at the top 100 charities fell by £92m in real terms in 2018/19, according to the Charity Financials Charity Top 100 Fundraisers Spotlight annual report, published today.

The value of general public fundraising fell to £5.8bn last year, a fall of 1.7 per cent, the report revealed. 

Almost half (48) of the top 100 charities by fundraised income experienced a real-terms fall in their income from fundraising, and 12 just kept pace with inflation. Of the charities whose fundraised income fell, 11 experienced declines of £10m or more. 

Income from statutory funding fell by 14.8 per cent over the year, to £908m, its lowest level in six years, which the report says was largely down to the Department for International Development's pause in the funding of international development charities while safeguarding issues were addressed in 2018.

But income from charitable activities in 2018/19 bucked the trend, rising by 3 per cent.

Total income fell by 2.4 per cent to £9.4bn, a real-terms drop of £209m on last year.

The report says some of the reduction in voluntary income can be explained by issues at particular charities, such as Save the Children, which lost some corporate support during the year, and Comic Relief, which ran its lower-earning Sport Relief event during the year rather than its bigger Red Nose Day event and is going through organisational transformation. 

The report says: “Annual results on the funding of the major fundraising charities are a key barometer to trends in public support for the charitable sector.

“As the sector grapples with the impact of Covid-19 on its earning capacity, the findings for 2018/19 are particularly important for indicating any changes resulting from high-profile sector crises around service, governance and fundraising standards, as well as reaction to sector measures to address these.

“Brexit-related political and economic uncertainty is another key factor likely to be affecting current household spending decisions, including charitable donations.”

The 2018/19 results indicate “a marked fall in both voluntary fundraised and earned income among the top 100” the report says. It adds that its findings confirm the sector’s trepidation about fallout and are especially concerning because they follow negligible growth last year. 

“The major charities clearly retain support and have a big fund of public goodwill and generosity on which to draw, but the evidence also suggests that donor confidence has been dented,” the report says.

“At a time when many donors also see shrinking disposable incomes, charitable donations are taking a toll.”

Many charities were supported by legacy incomes, but the report warns that legacy income is not likely to be a sustainable source of income in a period of faltering global growth. 

Once the impact of the coronavirus crisis is factored in, the report says, “income growth is likely to prove an elusive target for some time”.

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