Charity in the UK is big business.
There are hundreds of thousands of charities operating throughout the UK. They range from very small self help groups to the mega-million juggernauts. On the face of it you would think many charities is a good thing. However looking deeper at their finances can reveal a fascinating insight into just what they get up to. Many of the household names are more like big business than charities.
The Size of the Charity Sector in the UK (Last published figures Feb 2011)
Most groups in the voluntary and community sector are informal community groups, which are difficult to identify and count as they have no legal form – it has been roughly estimated that there might be upward of 600,000 such groups.
“2.5% of all charities have ¾ of all the income”
In 2007/08, there were 171,074 general registered charities in the UK. They vary considerably in size and income – more than half have an income under £10,000 per year, but a few (2.5%) have an income of over £1 million, and this last group account for about three quarters of the income of the sector as a whole.
“Total income of charities in the UK is £35.5 Billion”
The total income of general charities in the UK was estimated as £35.5 billion in 2007/08, an increase of 44% on 2001/02 when the total income was £24.6 billion (at April 2008 prices).
Many charities have become aggressive in their fund-raising efforts. They accost you in the street, they harass you at your home and they bombard your letter box with plastic collection bags. Now they send direct “junk” mail and advertise on television. Moreover, celebrities attach themselves to many causes in the belief they are doing good.
Some charities seem to be more concerned with raising income to keep their own jobs than for spending on their alleged beneficiaries. How much do the executives of your favourite charity earn?
Most people assume that all charities are ethical, honest and working for the benefit of others. It wasn’t long ago that I gave freely to many charities without questioning the value or significance of their work. Needless to say I now check first. What is the annual income? Or how much do the executives of your favourite charity earn? Every charity who asks for donations should make it loud and clear what their annual income is, what they pay their executives and what they spend their money on.
We are not suggesting you do not support and donate to charity but just take a minute to make sure that your hard earned cash is going to the right organisation. Even better if you are able – do some volunteering.
Remember, you can’t always rely on the charity regulators to crack down on rogue charities. There are many examples of these so called watchdogs being impotent and incompetent.
We will also from time to time investigate organisations who act like charities, represent charities and fund charities.