Fundraising income at UK mega-charities might have peaked after years of sustained growth, according to a report published today.
The 100 biggest fundraising charities generated £9.1bn in 2016/17, a rise of just 0.7 per cent on the previous year, according to the report Charity Financials Top 100 Fundraisers Spotlight.
Income had previously surged from £7.7bn in 2012/13 to £9bn last year, despite the difficult funding environment.
This suggests a period of rapid growth for the sector's behemoths could be coming to an end.
Organisations appear to have been ramping up fundraising and trading to compensate for a decline in statutory funding.
Since 2011/12, government income as a share of total income among the top 100 has fallen from 15 per cent to 11 per cent.
During the same period, fundraising and charitable activity have risen by two percentage points each to 62 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
"Overall, it's a very challenging picture," said report author Cathy Pharoah, visiting professor of charity funding and co-director of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy at Cass Business School.
"Charities are going to have to depend increasingly on fundraising to make up for gaps in statutory income and, given the current environment in fundraising, that's not going to be easy."
Pharoah said many organisations were working hard to improve fundraising, but the reputational risk caused to the sector by recent bad publicity posed a greater threat than the state of the economy.
The report, published by the data company Charity Financials, names the Alzheimer's Society, Tearfund, the International Bible Students Association, the Woodland Trust and Crisis as the fastest-growing fundraising charities in the top 100.
It says faith-based charities are doing well financially, whereas children's charities are struggling.
Save the Children is the highest-ranked children's charity at number 10. The NSPCC is the only charity to have dropped out of the top 10 from last year. The RSPCA, which was 11th last year, replaces it.
Sightsavers International is the biggest climber in the top 10, rising three places to third.
The report says the findings indicate "the public is willing to maintain and even increase its support for charities which they value strongly" but that, after years of growth, fundraising is coming "under strain".
It concludes: "With UK economic growth predicted to slow down over the medium term, and the recent allegations of poor practice in the sector receiving very high-profile media attention, it may be difficult to achieve any measurable growth over the next few years."
The report uses statistics from charities' annual reports and accounts. Only one third of the accounts were for 2017, which suggests growth in 2017 might have been lower than the data suggests.
Organisations that carry out fundraising from individual, corporate and trust donors, as well as attracting contracts and fees from statutory and other trading sources, are included in the report.
Top 10 charities by fundraising income 2016/17
1 Cancer Research UK £463m
2 British Heart Foundation £278m
3 Sightsavers International £270.5m
4 Macmillan Cancer Support £233.7m
5 Oxfam £211.3m
6 RNLI £182m
7 Salvation Army £141.4m
8 British Red Cross £135.4m
9 RSPCA £121.4m
10 Save the Children £119.6m