A small charity is a voluntary or community organisation with an annual income of less than £1m.

This is the most commonly-used definition across the voluntary sector, but where any data source differs from this definition we’ve specified in the table below.

Annual income is a useful way to think about the size of a charity because it tells us about the resources the charity has to pursue their mission and has the advantage of being one of the clearest, most comparable and most widely available data.

There are a huge number of charities with an income under £1m, and there are as many differences within the category of small charities as there are between small and large charities. Where more detailed analysis is possible, we have broken down small charities into smaller categories according to their income bracket, such as:

  • Under £10k, including those with no income at all.
  • £10k – £100k.
  • £100k – £250k.
  • £250k – £500k.
  • £500k – £1 million.

For sources that cover the whole voluntary sector, we also compare small charities with large charities.

We define large charities as those with a total income over £1m.

Most data sources used on this website define charities as organisations registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.

However, many of the smallest voluntary and community organisations do not register with a Commission, and some datasets include this broader range of civil society organisations. Some of the sources we use include social enterprises or campaign groups that are not registered with a commission.

There are also data sources which define charities more narrowly. For example, NCVO’s Civil Society Almanac excludes some registered charities – such as independent schools – which many people do not see as ‘general charities’ in the same way.