The voluntary sector now gets almost as much money from government sources as it does from individuals, according to the latest almanac from the NCVO.
The UK Civil Society Almanac 2010, published today, is updated with figures from the 2007/08 financial year, which pre-date the beginning of the recession.
It shows that voluntary organisations received £12.8bn from government grants and contracts in 2007/08, compared with £13.1bn from individual donations and membership fees.
But income from individuals remained static compared with the previous year, while income from statutory sources rose by nearly £1bn.
Since 2000, statutory funding increased by 53 per cent, and funding from individuals by 40 per cent. Together they accounted for three-quarters of the voluntary sector's £35.5bn annual income in 2007-8.
Income from government contracts was worth £9.1bn in 2007/08, an increase of 128 per cent since 2000/01. Grant income was worth £3.7bn.
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said the figures demonstrated why the sector should not be viewed as a soft target for public sector spending cuts. "Central and local governments have rightly recognised and made greater use of the voluntary sector's knowledge and expertise, particularly at a grass-roots level," he said.
"We know there will be severe cuts in public spending in the coming months. But we should not be seen as a cheap or fluffy addition to core public services. Our work is with some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities in the country, and they stand to lose the most if vital services are cut."
The almanac also shows that larger charities are the most reliant on government funding. Only 13 per cent of all charities got more than half their funding from government, with 78 per cent receiving no government funding at all.
Employment and training charities got by far the largest proportion of their income - 70 per cent - from statutory sources. The next highest were education and law and advocacy charities, which both received 51 per cent of their income from statutory sources.
The almanac also hows that:
- Earned income continued to be higher than voluntary income, as it had been since 2002/03, but the gap narrowed.
- Charitable spending accounted for £23bn of the £32.8bn total income in 2008
- Spending on governance was up slightly year on year, but fell overall from £1.9bn to £734m a year between 2001/02 and 2007/08.
- The sector had total net assets of £97bn. £53bn of those assets were owned by London-based charities.
- The voluntary sector workforce grew by 23 per cent between 1999 and 2008, compared with growth of 18 per cent in the public sector and 7 per cent in the private sector.
- People with degrees accounted for 38 per cent of the sector workforce, compared with 37 per cent in the public sector and 19 per cent in the private sector.