A detailed new insight into Northern Ireland’s charity industry shows that the thousands of registered charities here have a combined income in excess of £1 billion.
Most registered charities in Northern Ireland – just under three-quarters – have an income less than £100,000 per year.
Just 7% have an income greater than half-a-million pounds per year but these charities account for 73% of all the income. Two “very large outliers” reported an income greater than £200 million.
Figures released in a report by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland also show that the majority of charities here are focused on education and training, while only 21% are focused on tackling poverty.
The report does not provide any information as to the source of the charities’ income.
It should also be noted that there may be as many as 12,000 charities in Northern Ireland who do not belong to the register.
‘Community development’ charities account for a large portion of all those on the register at 44%. The report’s authors say the high number of these types of charities can be explained by our troubled history.
The report states: “It might be expected that the number of organisations with a purpose that includes the advancement of citizenship of community development would be proportionately higher in Northern Ireland than across other parts of the UK given the social history and recent conflict.”
Charities focused on health make up just over one-fifth of the total, at 22%, while religious charities account for 28%.
Of the thousands of charities registered in Northern Ireland, just one in 50 or 2% are focused on animal welfare.
While the registration process is ongoing, with 5,300 charities registered out of an estimated total of between 11,000 and 17,500, the information currently held by the commission provides never-before available information about Northern Ireland’s charity sector.
Commission chief executive Frances McCandless said: “Charity registration has enabled us to put together this previously unseen picture of charities in Northern Ireland, revealing the extent to which charities operate here, their income, their governance, and their focus.”