Charities’ income during the COVID-19 pandemic: administrative evidence for England and Wales

David Clifford*, Diarmuid McDonnell, John Mohan

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper provides a detailed overview of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the income of charitable organisations – an under-researched theme within social policy, which thus far has largely focused on the impact of the pandemic on individuals’ and households’ wellbeing. It analyses a unique longitudinal dataset that follows through time c.90,000 charities in England and Wales. The results, for the first time, illustrate the scale of the pandemic’s financial impact on the charitable sector: the median charity experienced a 13% real decline in annual income, while a charity at the 25th percentile of the annual relative growth distribution experienced an income decline of 43%. Importantly these annual declines are much more sizeable than those associated with the Great Recession and subsequent period of public spending austerity. Smaller charities, particularly those with an income under £100k, have been most significantly affected. The declines have been pervasive, extending across most fields of charitable activity, though certain charitable fields have seen particularly acute declines. While there has rightly been considerable emphasis on the important role of voluntary action in responding to the pandemic, this new empirical evidence helps to communicate the extent of the recent challenges faced by the charitable sector.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Early online date13 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2023


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