The growth rate of fundraised income at the top 100 UK fundraising charities has fallen to its lowest in six years, according to the data provider Charity Financials.
The income for the 100 largest fundraising charities grew to £9.1bn in their financial year for 2015/16, an increase on the previous year of 2.3 per cent, says the report, Top 100 Fundraising Charities Spotlight.
But the growth rate is less than half that of the 5.4 per cent rate revealed last year. This, the report says, indicates that "the harsh climate for fundraising is taking a toll" and there is little to suggest this might change in the immediate future.
The evidence "is of constraint and challenge, however, rather than a cliff-edge", the report says. "Charities that continue to build on the existing strengths of their fundraising and supporter/member bases, and to innovate and highlight issues which resonate with the public, are likely to see a good public response."
Cancer Research UK maintained its top spot in the list, which it has held for the past six years, with a fundraised income of £433.1m in 2015/16, 63 per cent higher than the British Heart Foundation, which came in second with a fundraised income of £265.1.
The figure raised by CRUK was more than double that of the third-largest charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, which brought in £215.5m.
The top seven charities, which also included Oxfam, the RNLI, Sightsavers and the British Red Cross, all maintained the same positions as last year, even though the fundraised income for some actually fell during the year.
The figures in the report, which was written by Cathy Pharoah, co-director of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Cass Business School, are based on the charities’ most recently available annual reports at the time of writing.
Religious charities were among those that showed the strongest growth in fundraised income. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, the Jehovah’s Witness charity, increased its voluntary income, including cash and donations, by 69 per cent in real terms. The voluntary income of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints United Kingdom & Ireland went up by 67 per cent after it received a large grant from its parent company in the US.
In total, the largest 100 fundraising charities brought in 14 per cent of the sector’s annual income, the report says.
Overall, it says, charities with fundraised incomes of more than £30m a year were likely to have much stronger growth than those with incomes below that level. Charities in the top two quartiles of the list had a median average growth of 3.1 and 3.2 per cent respectively; the two bottom quartiles had median growth of 2 and 1.4 per cent respectively.
The report says: "Last year’s report questioned how far the strong growth seen in 2014/15 could be maintained or surpassed in the near future, noting the ‘storm clouds on the horizon’.
"This year’s results indicate that pressures in the funding environment have indeed affected charity growth."
Income growth at charities was similar to World Bank estimates of UK growth of 2.2 per cent in 2015, the report says.
"This year’s results indicate that if charities continue to build on the existing strengths of their fundraising and supporter/member bases, and to innovate, the public is likely to respond," it says.
"For many charities the future challenge in the medium-term is to maintain their position, but if charities can manage to develop new fundraising techniques or messages which particularly resonate with the public, there is still potential to grow."
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