Policy, campaigns & research, Armed forces charities research

#CharityFact 5: Armed forces charities do their work with little income

The penultimate weekly instalment of evidence on the armed forces charity sector, this week’s #CharityFact explores the sector's income.

There are many myths and misconceptions about charities. Unfortunately, armed forces charities are no exception. At the Directory of Social Change (DSC), we believe you need two things to combat this: the facts and the evidence to back them up.

That’s why we’re bringing together the facts in short, weekly instalments. These facts are based on our new research, funded by Forces in Mind Trust.

This week, we’re looking at #CharityFact number five: Armed forces charities do their work with little income.

How much income does the typical armed forces charity have?

Imagine that we lined up all armed forces charities in terms of their income, from smallest to largest. The charity right in the middle could be called the ‘typical’ or average armed forces charity, insofar as it sits right in the centre.

The typical armed forces charity has an income of just over £13,000 per year. Using the NCVO classification system that we apply in our wider research, the average armed forces charity therefore fits into the ‘small’ category. These charities have an income between £10,000 and £100,000 per year.

Are there armed forces charities with large incomes?

So, the typical armed forces charity can be considered small in terms of income, but are there armed forces charities with much larger incomes?

Towards the other end of the NCVO income categories, just 2.2% of armed forces charities can be considered ‘large’. These are charities with an annual income between £5 million and £100 million. Meanwhile, just 0.1% of armed forces charities fit into the highest income category of ‘super major’, with an annual income of more than £100 million.

How is the sector’s income made up?

In the interactive data below, you’ll see that micro charities make up almost half of armed forces charities. However, despite their number, they account for only 0.2% of total income in the armed forces charity sector.

Clicking through the different categories, you might notice that, on the left-hand side, their number relative to sector decreases with their size. At the same time, over on the right-hand side, the income they bring into the sector overall generally increases with their size.

To take the extremes, almost 50% of armed forces charities are micro charities. But they make up less than 1% of the sector’s income. In contrast, less than 1% of armed forces charities are super major charities. However, they make up 17% of the sector’s income.

What to make of this?

The average armed forces charity has an annual income of around £13,000 per year. And almost half of armed forces charities are micro charities, operating on less than £10,000 per year.

We can conclude from this that armed forces charities do the work of serving their beneficiaries, typically, with little income.

There are, nevertheless, some much larger charities armed forces charities. Whilst they are comparatively few in number, they contribute a disproportionately large amount of income to the armed forces charity sector overall.

Find out more

Don’t forget to download the full report for free. You can also share our accessible infographic with those in need of the facts.