Focus On: Armed Forces Charities' Sector Trends

What is the purpose of the report? 

The armed forces charity sector is neither static nor homogeneous; charities come and go as beneficiary needs change, economic and social pressures shift, and public support peaks and dwindles.

Examining trends in the charity landscape can help us to understand not just the current size and shape of the sector, but also how the sector has changed; in turn, giving insights into where the sector may be heading in the future. Yet, relatively little data exists on this topic for armed forces charities, a deficit which this Focus On report addresses.

What does it cover?

As part of the Focus On series, this report provides more specific analysis of the UK armed forces charity sector – in this case, the number and characteristics of forces charities operating, opening, closing and merging between 2012 and 2018.

The report aims to provide the reader with:

  • The number and types of UK armed forces charities
  • Whether the sector is growing, shrinking or stable
  • Patterns of opening, closing and merging charities
  • Which types of charities are vulnerable to closure
  • Analysis of charities’ financial accounts

In addition, the report includes several case studies to demonstrate the types of changes discussed throughout.

Who is it for?

This is a unique resource for charities, government, policymakers and researchers to understand recent trends within the armed forces charity sector. This subject area has been thoroughly explored to provide a body of evidence and insightful analysis which informs of policy, practice and research.

What did we find?

  • Throughout 2012 to 2016, the size of the sector remained relatively stable but has shrunk moderately since.
  • Association branches are particularly vulnerable to closure. While they remain the most common type of armed forces charity, they are closing at a faster rate.
  • The total number of welfare charities operating has remained relatively consistent from 2012 to 2018. However, this subsector is particularly volatile, with a high turnover.
  • The Scottish armed forces charity sector appears to be shrinking at a faster rate than the rest of the UK.
  • The collective income raised by armed forces charities has grown from 2012 onwards.
  • Welfare charities account for approximately two-thirds of all income.

What did people say?

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust: ‘This latest report in the Focus On series is a must read for those making decisions about resources, how they can be generated and where they are best deployed, as well as for those who commentate responsibly about the sector. There is a common myth that there are too many Armed Forces charities; evidence from this report shows this is untrue. The recently published UK Government’s ‘Strategy for our Veterans’ draws on previous DSC work, and rightly so. This latest report is both authoritative and illuminating: rare, but invaluable, qualities.’

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