With over 15,500 members, NCVO is the largest membership body for the voluntary sector in England. It supports voluntary organisations – as well as social enterprises and community interest companies – from large national bodies to community groups working at a local level.

NCVO believes its members, and those with a stake in civil society, need the best quality evidence base to help them inform policy and practice, and plan for the future.

The UK Civil Society Almanac, published annually by NCVO, is the definitive reference publication for anybody interested in the voluntary sector, and its role in civil society. Widely cited by the media, it is used extensively by sector leaders and policy makers.

First published in 1996, the Almanac gives an overview of the voluntary sector’s scope and characteristics, including its finances, workforce, and volunteering.

It draws upon a unique historical dataset based on charity annual reports and accounts from the year 2000/01 onwards, plus data and evidence from a range of government and sector research including the Community Life Survey and the Labour Force Survey.

The Almanac dataset was developed in partnership with the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham, using data from the Charity Commission and a representative sample of charity accounts. Data for Scotland is provided by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), and for Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA).

The Almanac is based on the definition of ‘general charities’ developed by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to capture the voluntary sector’s contribution to GDP for the National Accounts. In 2008, NCVO expanded the remit of the Almanac to cover a broader range of civil society organisations. However, the current edition of the Almanac still focuses on the voluntary sector because of challenges around data availability and quality for organisations that are not registered charities.

Further reading

Find out more about NCVO

NCVO 2020 UK Civil Society Almanac 2020

NCVO Blog November 2020 Why good data matters: Covid-19 and the voluntary sector