Charity workforce grows at faster rate than any other sector over last decade

The charity sector workforce has grown faster than any other sector over the last decade, according to the NCVO’s 2021 Almanac.

It found that the voluntary sector has a paid workforce of just under a million (951,611) up 3% on the previous year and up 20% on 2010’s figures – the fastest workforce growth of any sector.

The majority of charity workers are in smaller organisations, with fewer than 50 paid staff. More than a third are involved in social work and part time contracts are more common in charities than other sectors.

The increase in the workforce comes amid a slight decrease in the number of charities. As of 2018/19 there were just over 163,000 charities in the UK, down from 167,000 the previous year.

The Almanac looks at the state of the charity sector and although largely based around financial information from 2018/19. It has also been supplemented by more recent data to “help readers understand the challenges that are currently facing the sector”, says NCVO research and insight manager Anya Martin.

She added that the growth in the charity workforce over the last decade contrasts with a 2% fall in private sector employment over the last, pandemic hit, year.

“While the voluntary sector’s small size means it cannot fully compensate for the loss of employment in the private sector, it’s likely that it provided a safety net for some of those losing their jobs during last year’s lockdown.

“In particular, there was a substantial increase in older employees (aged 50+) in the voluntary sector – a 6% increase in jobs.”

The Almanac also found that charity workers are slightly more likely to be on temporary contacts than other employees.

While the charity workforce is distributed around the UK “London is slightly over-represented”, says the Almanac.

Women also make up the majority of charity sector roles.

Meanwhile, the proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers remains low compared to other sectors and has not changed in eight years.



The financial figures for 2018/19 show that charity income and expenditure are growing but at a reduced rate.

But while income from the public and investments has increased other income sources, including government grants, have dipped.

More than half of all charities receive the majority of their income from the public.
The Almanac also found that charities contribute around £20bn to the UK economy, or 0.9% of GDP.

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