How Many Charities In The UK? The numbers and statistics, including for registered and social enterprises

The figure quoted for how many UK registered charities there are is usually about 165k, but that's completely wrong. This article provides the best statistics I can find on the different types and numbers of registered and unregistered charities, and also social enterprises, and other non profits.

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How Many Charities In The UK?

The figure quoted for UK charity numbers, including by some recognised charity sector 'authorities', is usually about 165k.  That's the number of charities registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales and, whilst nobody actually knows, the real figure is unquestionably far higher.  Consequently, I thought it might be helpful to publish the Charity Excellence model and its main underpinning assumptions. 

The total figure for UK non-profits is about 0.5 million, of which charities represent about 80%.  I've not been able to calculate an error estimation, but think that 10% to 20% either way is probably not far off. Any input to update/improve the figures below would be very welcome. 

UK Numbers - Charities & Social Enterprises

Location/Type Number
England & Wales 357,396
Scotland 45,000
Northern Ireland 10,000
Total UK Charities 412,396
Social Enterprises 76,335
Total UK Non-Profits 488,731

UK Charity Numbers - By Type and Country

Location/Type Number Notes/Source
Charity Commission E&W 167,396 Latest from search of CC register is 167,396, as at 23 Aug 20, but this figure doesn't include the 39,980 linked charities. 
Exempt Charities 80,000 No-one really knows, David Ainsworth Civil Society 2015 article estimate 80k. Includes universities, housing associations, academy schools and museums.
Excepted Charities 9,999 Civil Society article 2015 – well over 10k.  Includes churches, scout and guide groups, with income under £100k pa.
Unregistered charities 100,000 NAO Briefing July 2012 – below £5k threshold
Scotland 45,000 Estimated 45k voluntary organisations, half registered as charities, about 30k small community groups: 700 charities of £1+m.  SCVO data source – 24k registered charities.
Northern Ireland 10,000 Oct 20 – 6.3k registered, but reported 7k to 11.5k
Estimated Total 412,395  

Charity Numbers In England & Wales by Income Band

Income Band Numbers %
£0 to £10,000 206698 58%
£10,001 to £100,000 94874 27%
£100,001 to £500,000 36849 10%
£500,001 to £5,000,000 15400 4%
£5,000,000 plus 3575 1%
Total 357396  


The Statistics Used - Assumptions & Limitations

Here are the main assumptions in the model: 

  1. Data is drawn from a range of sources and these may have compiled figures on a differing basis to each other.
  2. Some figures are not up-to-date.
  3. Link charities have been excluded from the totals. 
  4. The percentage breakdown by income band of charities, is based on the percentages in the Charity Commission 2018 figures - this assumes that the current breakdown hasn't changed and also the exempt and excepted charity breakdowns follow the same pattern.  
  5. CASCs are in addition to the Social Enterprises UK total, because these were not included in the survey.  However, CASC is really a tax status, not legal structure and, it may be, that there is some double counting here.   

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