Research, Policy, campaigns & research

Sector Insight: Armed Forces Charities Research

Charity services for veterans save the state nearly £1 billion each year

What is the purpose of the report? 

The 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. Charities which serve the armed forces community are just as subject as other charities to the changing face of the charity sector.  

In such a changing climate, it is important to generate knowledge and evidence, and it is vital to keep that knowledge up to date. This report is designed as a tool to help readers understand not just the current size and characteristics of the sector but also where it may be heading in the future. 

What does it cover? 

As part of the Sector Insight series, this report provides a detailed overview of the armed forces charities sector as a whole.  

The report provides the reader with insights relating to: 

  • Total numbers and types of charities 
  • Financial size and characteristics of the sector 
  • Longitudinal trends in charity openings and closures 
  • An overview of charities by beneficiary groups supported 
  • Examples of collaboration 
  • Grant-making practices 

In addition, the report includes numerous detailed case studies to demonstrate specific aspects of the work undertaken within the sector. 

Who is it for? 

This report provides a body of evidence to inform policy, practice and research. This is a unique resource for charities, the government, policymakers and researchers to understand the topography and nature of the UK armed forces charity sector. 

What did we find? 

Some of the key findings in the report include: 

  • There are currently 1,843 armed forces charities. 
  • Armed forces charities serve a population of approximately 6.3 million people across the UK, including serving and ex-Service personnel. 
  • The sector’s total annual income was £1.1 billion, and the sector’s total annual expenditure was £985 million (as of 1 April 2019). 
  • Armed forces charities show a well-considered and collaborative approach to grant-making. 
  • The population of armed forces charities is contracting, not growing. 
  • Over a third of survey respondents expected financial issues and funding would be a challenge going forward. 

What did people say? 

General Sir John McColl, Chairman of Cobseo, said: ‘I commend this excellent DSC report to all who are involved in our sector and are seeking to address the challenges that lie ahead. The objective and thorough research conducted by DSC will support evidence-based policy development and decision-making, and will benefit the armed forces community we are all here to serve.’ 


Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Sector Insight is part of a series of reports by DSC that Forces in Mind Trust has funded over the last seven years, and we are very proud that they are regularly used by some of the most senior policy makers, media commentators and service providers. Our overriding ambition is to make an impact – these seminal reports have done so up to now, and I’m determined that the latest work will continue this success.” 

Watch the launch and Q&A

Download the report here – Sector Insight – Armed Forces Charities

Sector Insight: Armed Forces Charities