Up to date UK charity sector statistics 2022

A volunteer taking in donated clothing.

The UK charity sector is a vital part of the UK economy and social fabric.

According to register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk, as of 14 April 2022, there were 168,961 main charities registered in the UK and a further 15,092 linked* charities, totaling 184,053 (1).

At the time of writing this article, there are 1,428,773 employees, 927,586 trustees(s) and a whopping 5,220,233 volunteer(s) working hard to keep the charity sector buoyant (1).

*A 'linked charity' is a charity that is linked to another charity (the 'reporting charity'). For example, if two charities have the same board of trustees, they can apply to be linked (2).

Statista.com cites a slightly higher figure for charities in the UK at 170,383 as of March 2022, but it is unclear as to how this figure is comprised (3).

Either way, it is a very large and valuable sector both to the UK economy and to those people who benefit from the great work these charities do. Since only those not-for-profit organisations with an annual turnover of £5,000 need to register, it is unclear as to how large the sector actually is. Add into this total the 20,000+ UK organisations, such as schools and churches, that also have charitable status (4) and the sector surpasses 200,000.

Approximately 50% of all charities have an income of less than £10,000 per annum, while over 80% of all charities have an annual turnover of less than £100,000 (4). Small charities make up approximately 96% of the UK voluntary sector (5).

How many new charities register each year?

Typically there are around 5,000 new registrations for charity organisations each year, but sadly there are approximately the same number that close down, as a result growth in the charity sector has been stagnant in recent years.

Where are charities in the UK based?

  • England (inc Gibraltar) – 142,344 charities (11)
  • Wales – 7,357 charities (11)
  • Scotland – 23,000 charities employing 138,000 people (6)
  • Northern Ireland – Approximately 7,287 charities on its ‘deemed’ list, including churches and universities (10)

How does the number of, and income of small charities differ by region?

The following figures, published by Small Charities Data in 2021, show how small charities are distributed across the UK (11).



% of total

Total annual income £

% of total £

South East England










South West England & Gibraltar





East of England





North West England





West Midlands





East Midlands





Yorkshire and the Humber










North East England










(11) Figures correct at 21 June 2021.


The top 10 charities in England and Wales by turnover          

Charity Name


The Arts Council for England


Lloyd’s Register Foundation


International Finance Facility for Immunisation Company


The Charities Aid Foundation


The British Council


Save The Children International


Nuffield Health


Cancer Research UK


Cardiff University


United Church Schools Foundation Ltd


(7) Figures correct at 25 December 2021.


How has the Covid pandemic affected the charity sector?    

In October 2021, the Charity Commission published its research into the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the charity sector. The research involved interrogating the commission’s own data as well as research performed by the charities themselves, plus additional independent research to discover how charities of different sizes perceive the impact of the pandemic on their finances, governance and operations.

The commission explained it was difficult to make a simple summary of its findings, but did draw a few clear conclusions from the data, as follows:

  • Over 90% of charities said they’d experienced some negative impact from Covid-19, whether on their service delivery, finances, staff, or on staff morale.
  • Of the 90% of charities reporting a negative impact, 45% of those said they took some action to adapt their services to restrictions caused by the pandemic. Some changed the way they delivered services, moving them online, refocusing on core projects, taking difficult decisions to cut staffing or cut spending on research.
  • Of the 90% reporting a negative experience, approximately 40% said they had to dip into their reserves.
  • 60% of all charities the research questioned say they experienced a loss of income.
  • 1 in 4 charities with less than £10,000 of annual income paused their activities altogether during the first lockdown period.
  • 32% said they experienced a shortage of volunteers.
  • 97 charities reported they were insolvent as part of their annual return to the charities register. This is a relatively small number considering the 170,000 approx. charities registered.
  • Over50% of the largest charities surveyed (incomes over £500,000 per annum) said they made use of the government’s furlough scheme.
  • The findings weren’t all bleak. 49% of those charities surveyed said their staff and/or volunteers have learned to make better use of technology as a result of the changes made during the pandemic. While 18% said communication between trustees has improved (8 & 9).

All figures correct as per sources at time of publication.

Protecting your charity with Markel Direct’s charity insurance

Charity organisations can protect themselves with Markel Direct’s charity insurance, which has been designed specifically to cover small charities, community groups and not-for-profit organisations from their daily business risks.

Charity insurance offers cover against a range of risks facing your organisation, including:

Few charities have the financial strength to pay the costs, damages and any awards made against them in the event of a claim. Charity insurance provides cover against these scenarios, giving you the peace of mind that if something unexpected happens, your organisation will be covered.

Understanding the different types of insurance available to your charity can be confusing. If you’d like more information covering what insurance your charity should consider, you can find out more by following the ‘decision tree’ in our charity insurance guide.

Markel has raised over £150,000 for our supported charity, as well as being involved in other projects to support the voluntary sector. We understand the value small charities and community groups have in society and to people’s welfare.

You can read more about our support of the community and charity sector here.



1. https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/sector-data/sector-overview

2. http://ogs.charitycommission.gov.uk/g555a001.aspx

3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/283464/number-of-uk-charities-in-england-and-wales/

4. https://howcharitieswork.com/about-charities/how-many-charities/

5. https://smallcharitiesdata.org/topic/the-number-of-small-charities/

6. https://www.charitycareersscotland.co.uk/charity-sector-inscotland/

7. https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/sector-data/top-10-charities

8. https://charitycommission.blog.gov.uk/2021/10/28/what-new-research-tells-us-about-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-charities/

9. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charity-commission-covid-19-survey-2021/covid-19-survey-2021

10. FOI response from Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and https://www.charitycommissionni.org.uk/charity-search/?pageNumber=1

11. https://smallcharitiesdata.org/national-picture/






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