Income and Expenditure
Total funding, including grants and contracts, to the voluntary and community sector:
Estimating the economic size of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Northern Ireland is a complicated task and one that is determined by the availability and accessibility of data from a wide range of sources. The State of the Sector research programme has produced a body of evidence that allows an assessment of the sector's finances to be made over a significant period.
The analysis presented in this section will examine the 2019-2020 funding environment with information collected from funders, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, 360 Giving, NICVA's own database and the Government Funders Database. Comparisons with previous years' findings are made where appropriate.
You can find out more about the methodology behind the Income and Expenditure section here.
The Income and Expenditure section of State of the Sector examines the income distribution of voluntary and community organisations in Northern Ireland. This 2019-2020 data was sourced from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland online register resource.
Table 1: Income distribution of voluntary and community organisations
|Income Bracket||Number 2019 - 2020||2019 - 2020 %||2017 - 2018 %|
|£1 million-£5 million||130||3.9||4.7|
NICVA utilised income information from the Charity Commission NI website examining the 2019-2020 financial year.
- In the previous edition of the Income and Expenditure update, it was reported that 44.5% of organisations had an income of £20,000 or less. The data available from CCNI found that in 2019-2020, 38.6% of organisations reported that they fell within this income bracket
- This edition reported an increase in the percentage of organisations that had an income of between £20,001 and £250,000. In 2019-2020, 44.9% of organisations had an income of between £20,001 and £250,000 compared with 35.9% of organisations in 2017-2018
- The CCNI data shows that of the organisations that have updated accounts, 1.1% fell within £5 million+ income band which remains unchanged from the 2017-2018 update
2.1 Central Government Funding (Grants)
The figures for 2019-2020 reported below outline direct departmental expenditure. The available data was sourced from the Government Funding Database.
Table 2: Central Government Funding by Department 2019-2020
|Department||Funding 2019 - 2020 £||Percentage %|
|Dept. for Communities (DfC)||222,129,636||49.2|
|Dept. of Health (DOH)||131,119,702||29.5|
|Dept. of Education (DE)||36,093,346||8.0|
|The Executive Office (TEO)||28,632,130||6.3|
|Dept. for the Economy (DfE)||16,036,595||3.5|
|Dept. of Justice (DOJ)||7,170,481||1.5|
|Dept. for Infrastructure (DFI)||5,967,269||1.3|
|Dept. of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)||3,725,523||0.8|
- According to data obtained from the Government Funding Database, The Department for Communities provided the highest funding to the sector in 2019-2020 with 49.2% of the total direct central departmental funding coming for this department
- The Department of Health provided 29.5% of direct departmental funding to the sector with almost £131 million awarded from this source
- The Department of Education awarded significant funding with over £36 million awarded to the voluntary sector
- The Executive Office provided 6.3% of direct departmental funding with over £28 million awarded to the sector
- The Department for the Economy provided 3.5% of direct departmental funding to the sector with over £16 million awarded from this source
- The Department of Justice provided 1.5% of funding and the Department for Infrastructure provided 1.3% of direct departmental funding to the sector
- The department contributing the least funding was the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). DAERA provided £3.7 million (0.8%) to the voluntary sector
2.2 Non-Departmental Public Bodies and Other Statutory Bodies (Grants)
This report continues to examine the funding relationship between non-departmental public bodies and the voluntary and community sector. Data presented below was obtained from the Government Funding Database.
Table 3: Non-Departmental Funding by Public Body 2019-2020
|Non-Departmental Public Body||Amount 2019-2020|
|Northern Ireland Housing Executive||160,179,413|
|Arts Council Northern Ireland||11,346,387|
|Sport Northern Ireland||2,668,614|
|Foras na Gaeilge*||2,124,512|
|Ulster Scots Agency||484,938|
|Northern Ireland Museum Council||16,319|
- The above table demonstrates the strong relationship between the sector and non-departmental public bodies with over £332 million awarded by non-departmental public bodies in 2019-2020
- The Northern Ireland Housing Executive awarded the largest funding to the sector, with a total award of £160,179,413 in 2019-2020
- The heath sector, which includes the Public Health Agency, Health and Social Care Board and all five Health and Social Care Trusts, provided the second largest amount of funding with almost £128 million awarded in 2019-2020
- The education sector awarded over £28 million followed by The Arts Council Northern Ireland who provided funding of over £11 million to the sector
- Smaller funding grants were also provided by Sports Northern Ireland, Foras na Gaeilge, Northern Ireland Screen, Tourism NI, Ulster Scots Agency and the Northern Ireland Museum Council totalling £5,294,383
2.3 Local Government (Grants)
The figures reported below outline local council funding to voluntary and community organisations for the financial year 2019-2020. The data was solely sourced from the Government Funding Database.
Table 4: Local council funding to voluntary and community organisations
|District Council||Total Funding 2019-2020|
|Derry City and Strabane District Council||2,112,033|
|Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council||864,502|
|Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council||511,370|
|Fermanagh and Omagh District Council||292,661|
|Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council||284,662|
|Ards and North Down Borough Council||250,842|
|Belfast City Council||234,630|
|Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council||226,396|
|Newry, Mourne and Down District Council||72,407|
|Mid Ulster District Council||66,000|
|Mid and East Antrim Borough Council||61,937|
*Please note that the varying totals of funding provided by different Councils to VCSE organisations in their area may simply reflect the numbers of the VCSE organisations located in that Council area.
- Table 4, shows that Derry City and Strabane District Council awarded the largest amount of funding of over £2 million to the sector in 2019-2020
- Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council awarded the second largest amount of funding totalling £864,502
- Other councils that have strong funding relationships with the sector included, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council each of which funded organisations within their area almost £1.1 million
- The council which contributes least funding to the sector was Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, awarding £61,937 in the 2019-2020 financial year
- The average (mean) funding awarded by councils to the sector was £452,494
2.4 Central Government Funding (Contracts)
Table 5: Contracts awarded to the VCSE Sector
|Department||Funding 2019 - 2020||Percentage %|
|Dept. of Health (DOH)||5,053,031||45.6|
|The Executive Office (TEO)||5,017,431||45.3|
|Dept. of Education (DE)||449,972||4.0|
|Dept. for Communities (DfC)||287,750||2.6|
|Dept. for Infrastructure (DFI)||92,000||0.8|
|Dept. of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA)||78,600||0.7|
|Dept. for the Economy (DfE)||78,475||0.7|
- According to data obtained from the Department of Finance regarding contracts awarded to the VCSE Sector in NI, The Department of Health (45.6%) provided the highest contract funding to the sector in 2019-2020
- The Executive Office provided 45.3% of funding to the sector with over £5 million awarded from this source
- The Department of Education awarded almost £450,000 to the voluntary sector in 2019-2020
- The Department for Communities provided 2.6% of funding with over £280,000 awarded to the sector
- The Department for Infrastructure provided 0.8% and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) provided 0.7% of funding to the sector
- The department contributing the least funding was the Department for the Economy. DfE provided £78,475 (0.7%) to the voluntary sector
2.5 Covid and Post-Brexit UK Government Funding
The figures in this update do not include Covid-19-related income received from UK government (such as under the furlough scheme) or from Northern Ireland government Departments (such as the Department for Communities Covid Charities Fund), nor do they include any income from the UK Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ and post-Brexit funding such as the Community Renewal Fund’ as none or very little of this income had yet been received by the end of the sample period (i.e. financial year 2019/20).
2.6 Irish Government
This State of the Sector research sought to determine the amount of funding organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Northern Ireland received from the Irish Government. Through examination of data held by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Reconciliation Fund Tranche 1 and 2, it was concluded that a total of £2,762,724.03 was awarded to the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland in the calendar year 2019.
2.7 European Union
The voluntary and community sector continued to receive funding from European programmes such as PEACE IV, INTERREG VA, INTERREG VB, INTERREG VC, the European Social Fund Programme and the Rural Development Programme from the 2014-2020 funding period. The data presented below includes voluntary organisations which are based in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Consequently, in some cases, it is difficult to determine the exact total funding provided to NI.
Table 6: European funding to the voluntary and community sector
|European Funding Programmes (2014-2020)||Annual Average £|
|European Social Fund Programme||8,750,050|
- An annual average of £7,747,482 was calculated for those organisations specifically in the VCSE sector who received funding from the PEACE IV programme. This figure includes organisations that deliver services in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
- An annual average of £1,214,604 was calculated for those organisations specifically in the VCSE sector who received funding from the INTERREG VA programme. This figure includes organisations in the VCSE sector only
- The European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 approved an annual average of £8,750,050 to VCSE sector organisations in Northern Ireland. This figure represents the total approved but not the final claimed amount which may be lower
Table 7: Additional European funding to Northern Ireland
|European Funding Programmes (2014-2020)||Annual Average £|
|European Rural Development Programme||30,134,452|
- It was not possible to obtain exact data on the number of VCSE sector organisations who obtained funding from the INTERREG VB programme. However, an annual average of funding available totalling £77,936,479 was calculated for the 7-year programme period. A proportion of this figure was received by VCSE sector organisations in Northern Ireland
- Similarly, we were unable to obtain data on the number of VCSE organisations who received funding from the INTERREG VC programme but an annual average of £47,267,930 was calculated, from which a proportion of funding was received by VCSE organisations
- Despite being unable to obtain data for all projects who received funding from the INTERREG VB and INTERREG VC, NICVA sourced example projects, with partner in NI, who received funding. Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs (SuNSE) with a partner in NI, received over £1.5 million from the INTERREG VB programme. Atlantic Social Lab (Enterprise North West) received £113,872,512 and Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs (Ashton Community Trust) received £292,968,447 of funding from the INTERREG VC programme
- The Rural Development Programme for Northern Ireland 2014-2020 provided funding for all aspects of rural life including environment and forestry, agri food and farming, tourism, business development, creation of jobs and access to services and village renewal. An annual average of available funding for the 7-year duration of the programme totalling £30,134,452 was calculated, from which a proportion of funding was received by VCSE organisations
- The aforementioned funding sources are from EU structural funds only. Other sources of EU funding are available including Erasmus+, LIFE+ and Horizon 2020
Each year, The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly the Big Lottery Fund) awards millions of pounds to causes across Northern Ireland through a range of funding programmes. The National Lottery Community Fund made a commitment that 80% of its funding will be distributed to the voluntary and community sector. The actual percentage varies on a year-to-year basis depending on the nature of the funding programmes available. The remaining 20% is distributed to partnerships involving the sector.
Table 8: The National Lottery Community Fund awards
|Financial Year||Total Awarded to NI £|
In the 2019-2020 financial year, The National Lottery Community Fund awarded £24,337,193 to the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland. This is an increase of £2,314,219 from the amount awarded in 2017-2018.
2.9 Earned Income
Table 9: Charities’ Earned Income
|Financial Year||Amount £|
|2019 - 2020||107,512,314|
Data was obtained from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) on earned income (£107,512,314) for all charities in Northern Ireland during the financial year 2019/2020.
This section examines the percentage of funding awarded to the sector from different sources including the EU, central government through to non-departmental public bodies. As reported in the last State of the Sector, the general public continue to show generosity, and donated almost £180 million to the sector.
Table 10: Overall Funding to the Sector
|Funding Source||Amount £||Percentage %|
|Central Government Grants and Contracts Funding (incl. NDPB)||£461,931,940||56|
|Charities’ Earned Income||£107,512,314||13|
|The National Lottery Community Fund||£24,337,193||3|
|European Union *||£17,712,136||2|
|The National Lottery Heritage Fund||£11,816,600||2|
|Grant Making Trusts||£10,952,301||1|
* This figure does not include EU funding received by VCSE sector organisations from EU programmes such as the Rural Development Programme and non-Structural Funds programmes such as Erasmus+ for which data on funding received specifically by VCSE sector organisation was not available
** Please note that the data for income and the data for expenditure were taken from different sources. Consequently, there may be discrepancies between both the income and expenditure figures
This section also reports on the level of funding awarded to the sector by Grant Making Trusts. The highest funding was awarded to the VCSE sector by Central Government (£461,931,940) and the lowest by Local Government (£4,977,439). The National Lottery Community Fund awarded £24,337,193 in 2019-2020, an increase of £2,314,219 from the amount awarded in 2017-2018.
Expenditure Areas 2019-2020
This report found that 92% of expenditure of organisations with an income greater than £250,000 was used on charitable activities
5% was used on the cost of fundraising and 3% was used on other areas
This State of the Sector also examined the percentage of expenditure broken down by organisations' income level.
Table 11: Expenditure of organisations by income bracket
|Income Bracket||Number of orgs analysed||Charitable Activities||Cost of Fundraising* %||Other * %||Total Expenditure %|
* The Charity Commission NI refers to the Cost of Fundraising as the Cost of Voluntary Income
** Other expenditure’ includes all expenditure not related to either fundraising or charitable activities, as defined in the SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice) Financial Report Standard for the UK and Ireland http://www.charitysorp.org/media/647945/sorp-frs-102-second-edition.pdf
- Organisations with an income between £250,000-£500,000 spent 88.5% of their expenditure on charitable activities. On the other end of the scale, organisations with an income of more than £5 million spent 92.9% of their expenditure on charitable activities
- Organisations with an income between £250,001-£500,000 spent the most on the cost of fundraising (7.8%) and organisations with an income of £5,000,001+ spent the least (4.4%)