Nearly 80 per cent of charity sector spending stays in the UK, says report

Of the £68bn spent by the charitable sector in England and Wales in 2015, only £2.9bn was spent overseas, a study by the by the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester have shown.

The report showed that 78 per cent (£53bn) spent by the charitable sector was by charities whose remit is solely in the UK. While development charities’ spending constituted 10 per cent of all charitable expenditure.

The report Changes in Expenditure, Income and Income Sources for Development NGOs based in the UK was produced by Dan Brockington, director of the Sheffield Institute of International Development at the University of Sheffield, and Nicola Banks, from the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.

It tracked the finances and activities of 898 international development NGOs based in England, Wales and Scotland.

It found that the sector is highly unequal in terms of its allocation of resources, with eight per cent of organisations in the survey controlling 88 per cent of expenditure.

The report also found that the public is the most important source of revenue for development NGOs, providing 40 per cent of all revenues. This has increased in real terms over the last five years, but “decreased marginally in relative importance as the sector has diversified”.

It found that corporate donations generally account for little more than five per cent of income, and have not increased except for the largest NGOs.

It showed that returns of fundraising investments are high and “favourable for the sector as a whole”. It said that if more was invested in fundraising it is possible that hundreds of millions of extra income could be earned.

Charity ‘begins at home’

Brockington said: “The vast majority of charitable money is spent by charities which only operate in this country. Charity clearly already begins at home.

“When people say that we need to do less abroad and more at home I wonder if they realise what the current distribution is.

“Charity should begin at home – but should it also end there? It’s important to contextualise the international narrative against the national picture and this research does just that.”

The report concluded that there was a lot of inequality in the sector. It said: “We knew that the sector was unequal in terms of its command of resources, but not as unequal as we found it to be, nor so dramatically concentrated on London.”

It also said that there is “something rather remarkable about the development NGO sector”. It said: “In an era of Brexit, growing insularism, anxiety about refugees and pressure on the aid budget, the number of charities which work on famine relief and overseas poverty increases at double the rate of other charities”

The report concluded with the authors saying they were “dissatisfied with results so far”.

Adding: “We feel there is much more to be learnt by exploring further which regions of the world the sector works in, on what activities and with what sorts of partnerships. We feel there is much more to be learnt about the changing patterns in giving and fundraising activities.”

Source: Civil Society

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