The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has recently updated the figures for its UK Civil Society Almanac.

This is widely seen as the definitive resource on the state of the voluntary sector nationally. The almanac produces insights on what voluntary organisations do, their income and spending, workforce, volunteers and the sector’s impact. So, what does this tell us about the state of the voluntary sector in the East of England?

For England as a whole, there are a total of 133,884 registered charities. 16,392 of these are based in the Eastern Region (some 12% of the national total). In 2016/17, our regional charities had a combined income of £3.06bn and spent £3.03bn. The East of England has 2.7 charitable organisations for every thousand people resident in the region. Only London (2.8) and the South West (3.2) have more charitable organisations per 1,000 population, with the average for England being 2.4 organisations.

Of all the voluntary sector organisations in the east, 14,089 (86%) are defined as small and micro charities. A ‘micro’ charity is generally seen as one with an annual income less than £10,000, while a ‘small’ charity is one with an income of under £100,000. Only the East Midlands region has a higher proportion of small and micro charities (87%), while the figure for London is 71%.

In total, charities in the East of England employ nearly 71,000 people, just under 10% of the voluntary sector workforce for England as a whole.

For Norfolk specifically, the data provides a fascinating insight into the distribution and income of our local charities and community groups. South Norfolk has the most registered charities with 578, while North Norfolk has 513 and Breckland 496. Totals for the others are:

  • King’s Lynn & West Norfolk: 460
  • Norwich: 391
  • Broadland: 378
  • Great Yarmouth: 153 registered charities, the lowest of all the Norfolk districts.

In terms of income during 2016/17, Norwich charities had the highest income with £143m, while Great Yarmouth had the lowest at £11.5m. Total income for the other districts was:

  • South Norfolk £60.7m
  • Breckland £47.8m
  • Norfolk Norfolk £43.6m
  • Broadland £38.6m
  • King’s Lynn & West Norfolk £28.2m.

The national data highlights a number of important trends affecting the voluntary sector. All of these are relevant to the charities and community groups operating across our region:

  • The public and government remain the largest income sources for the sector, although the growth in income is being driven by grants and investments
  • Volunteering rates are stable, but diversity remains an issue
  • The reach and impact of voluntary organisations is wide-ranging, with 1 in 10 households accessing the services provided by voluntary organisations at some point.

The NCVO data demonstrates that registered charities contribute an enormous amount to the economic, social and environmental activity of our region and provide essential services which support vulnerable people, build stronger communities and unlock potential. The scale and diversity of that contribution continues to be both impressive and commendable.

NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac 2019