Earned income for the Northern Irish voluntary sector has increased by over a half since 1998, according to a new report from the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA).
The report found that charities and community groups have received about £154 million in earned income in 2000/2001, compared with £99 million in 1998.
This is attributed to a shift in funding for the sector, including an increase in charity contracts and a 25 per cent decrease in government funding. NICVA ascribes this to a shakedown from devolution and increased levels of scrutiny and accountability by the Government into charity funding.
The report also found a 9.6 per cent increase in overall income from 1998 to £657 million in 2000/2001.
More than 4.5 per cent of the Northern Ireland work force is employed in the voluntary sector.
Gordon McCullogh, head of research at NICVA, said: "This report shows that the voluntary sector is a sizeable economic force in Northern Ireland."