The national state of our sector - what does it mean for you?

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12 May, 2017
Earlier this week, the NCVO published its 2017 edition of the UK Civil Society Almanac, covering the period of 2014/2015. The Almanac brings together data from charities’ accounts, administrative data and surveys to provide a comprehensive overview of the structure and economy of the UK voluntary sector, and is full of information on a range of topics including finance, workforce and volunteering.
The headline message, while not one of a dramatic rise in income (both from from Government and individuals) is one of stability – overall sector income rose slightly compared with 2013/14, demonstrating the sector’s resilience and ability to adapt to a new operating environment. 
More than half (56%) of the increase in the sector’s income over this period occurred in income from individuals. Interestingly, earned income from individuals (including fees for services and merchandise from charity shops) was slightly higher (£10.5bn) than voluntary income from individuals through charitable donations and legacies (£10.1bn). 
This highlights that more charities are finding new and creative ways to make money from what they do in order to remain sustainable in the financial climate. 
>>For tips and inspiration for how you can diversify your income, as well as advice form experts on a range of other fundraising methods, who not attend our popular Fund It event in Central Bristol in June – click here for details!
However, while this trend is encouraging, it is important to note that almanac also points out that a small proportion of charities in the UK (3%) holds over 90% of the sector’s total assets. It also highlights that, while there was a small increase in national government spending during 2014/15, continued austerity will likely mean government spending will fall again, at least in line with spending cuts.
This information all highlights the fact that small charities are still experiencing great challenges to providing their services in a time when there is a growing need for them.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "Charities have been becoming increasingly entrepreneurial in recent times. With no realistic prospect of an overall increase in government spending and what look to be tough public fundraising conditions, this is a trend that will have to continue if the sector is to see growth in the next few years.
"While some charities will doubtless buck these trends, the picture for small and medium-sized charities in particular looks challenging.
"The next government could boost local charities and community groups for a generation by using the money from dormant assets to endow community foundations with investment that can generate returns to support charities for a generation to come. They could also help communities buy assets that are important to them, putting them under the control of local people through charities and community groups."
>> To read the full almanac, click here.
To get a fresh perspective on your fundraising – don't forget to grab your place for Fund It! 2017 – it provides an essential space for local groups across the South West to come together and discuss common problems and creative solutions with experts, peers and with funders themselves.
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