Small Charites Data is a digital research hub that brings together the best available data on small charities in the UK. We want to make evidence on small charities accessible and usable for anyone interested in the voluntary sector.

Over the past decade, the range of data and evidence available on the small charity sector has increased significantly, particularly in terms of what is happening to finances, demand, staff, and volunteers. We want to make sure that data finds its way into the hands of anyone who needs it.

A range of data sources

Underpinning this site is data drawn from a wide range of sources, like government, regulators, membership bodies and infrastructure organisations in the voluntary sector, independent funders, and researchers. The types of data used on this site are equally diverse – they include:

  • Government administrative data.
  • Financial data from annual accounts submitted to the Charity Commission.
  • Representative national surveys of charities.
  • A survey of members of infrastructure organisations representing small charities.
  • Open data.

We think bringing together different types of data in this way helps to tell the whole story of small charities. The research team mapped the data sources in detail against key themes, and we have prioritised using the best available evidence for any given topic.

Gathering data on small charities is not without its challenges

There isn’t as much detailed data on smaller charities as there is on large ones. Small charities don’t have to report their numbers in such detail as large ones to the relevant Charity Commission. For example, charities with a total annual income under £10k report only total income and total spending; while charities with an income over £500k report a much more detailed set of financial information (known as ‘part b’). See more details from the Charity Commission for England and Wales here.

Different data sources use different definitions and methodologies. There is no single, universally accepted definition of a small charity – we have a rule of thumb but do not exclude data which may stray a little outside these boundaries, as the insights gained outweigh the neatness of a narrow definition. Different data sources also use different methodologies, in particular differing data types and sampling techniques, which all have a bearing on our interpretation of the data as a whole. For example, data types range from charity accounts to simple surveys, while sampling techniques range from representative samples to self-selecting member surveys.

Different data sets cover different time periods. Data from different sources is published at different points and cover different time periods. We have elected to publish the latest available data from each source in order to give the most up-to-date picture. We also provide five year trends for comparison, where possible. To avoid too much confusion, we always make clear the year that data was collected and published.

Different data sets cover different geographical areas. The data on this website covers the whole of the UK, although there is more detail available for small charities registered in England and Wales.

How did we build this site?

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales approached organisations producing data on small charities to form a partnership to help set up this website. Through workshops and collaborations, partners agreed on the aims of the project, key questions to be addressed by the data, criteria for inclusion, and the shape of the website.

The project employed an independent research lead to map and source data from a wide variety of UK organisations and publications. An independent digital lead was employed to build the site in conjunction with the research lead, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales staff, sector partners, and data publishers.

More information on each of the partners can be found here.

Key methodological differences