How to use the Almanac

The UK Civil Society Almanac is the most accurate and comprehensive source of data on the voluntary sector and is the definitive reference publication used by sector leaders and policy-makers. The NCVO research team constantly reviews the data collection process in order to further improve the data, so you know that you are using the most up-to-date and reliable data available.

Most of this year’s Almanac covers the financial year of 2018/19. While much has changed since then, particularly since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, there is a lot we can learn from the Almanac time series about the challenges that charities are facing today, and possibly in the future.

The Almanac is an essential resource for your organisation. You can use it to:

  • highlight the value of the sector, influence policy and strengthen your campaigns
  • inform your financial plan and fundraising strategy
  • inform your board’s strategic thinking
  • compare your organisation against others
  • explain the context your organisation works in
  • understand workforce trends
  • improve your volunteer involvement.

See more about each of these below.

Highlight the value of the sector, influence policy and strengthen your campaigns

The Almanac provides data that can be used to understand the sector, influence policy and inform your campaigns. Last year, NCVO used the Almanac data to make the case to government for financial support for the sector during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Almanac can be used to answer these questions:

  • How can I talk to the government about the value of the sector?
    Use the Almanac to provide trustworthy statistics on the importance of the sector, such as total income, workforce and economic contribution, and communicate these with central and local government.
  • How can I use the Almanac to respond to government decisions?
    Use the Almanac to understand the potential impact of government decisions and build evidence to talk to government officials.
  • How can I strengthen our campaigns?
    Use the data in the Almanac as an evidence base for your campaigns, and provide information on the wider context.
  • How do I talk to the public about our campaigns?
    The Almanac provides easy-to-understand statistics that you can use when communicating your campaign to the public.

For more information, explore the impact section.

Inform your financial plan and fundraising strategy

The Almanac provides financial information and data on different funding streams which can aid your organisation in financial planning and identify potential gaps in your fundraising strategy. While the findings don’t yet show the full impact covid-19 has had on the sector, you can still use the Almanac to get an idea of the challenges facing the sector today and in the future.

The Almanac can be used to answer these questions:

  • How can the Almanac help me understand my income sources?
    The Almanac provides data on income source and type. Use it to understand different sources and types of income (including donations from the public) that are available to your organisation, and how the covid-19 pandemic may impact these.
  • How can the Almanac help me understand and benchmark my current funding mix?
    Identify gaps in your current funding streams and compare your organisation to others of a similar size.
  • How can the Almanac help me with my financial planning?
    Use the Almanac to gain insight into the funding resources available to the sector and see how they are changing over time. This can help you to prioritise and focus your future fundraising efforts.
  • How do changes in government funding in the sector compare to what my organisation has experienced?
    See trends on the level of government funding given over the years and estimate how your organisation could receive grants in the future.

For more information, explore the financial overview.

Inform your board’s strategic thinking

The Almanac is a fantastic source of quick, reliable statistics that can be used in board meetings to share findings with trustees and other members of governance.

The Almanac can be used to answer these common questions:

  • How can the data in the Almanac be used in board meetings?
    Use the executive summary to get headline figures and trends on the voluntary sector. Data on the funding environment, volunteer management or challenges in the workforce can be easily shared with board members beforehand. Use the data when creating presentations for board meetings or away days.
  • How can the Almanac be used to introduce new board members to the voluntary sector?
    Use the Almanac to provide easy-to-understand information and an overview of the sector to new board members. It also links readers to further resources.
  • How can the Almanac be used to measure our sustainability and understand our outgoings?
    Use the Almanac to understand your income to spending ratio and determine if this is appropriate given your organisations context.

For more information, explore the fast facts section and the executive summary.

Compare your organisation against others

The Almanac contains information on the size and scope of national and local charities as well as data on their finances. Use it to help you benchmark how your organisation is doing.

The Almanac can be used to answer the following questions.

  • How well is my organisation performing within the sector?
    Use the Almanac to benchmark your organisation’s performance against key financial indicators for the sector.
  • How well is my organisation performing compared to others of a similar size?
    The Almanac provides data on organisations of different sizes, including information on smaller charities.
  • How well is my organisation performing compared to those with similar activities?
    Whether your organisation works in education, health, social services, environment and more, you can use the Almanac to benchmark against organisations doing similar activities.
  • How can my organisation plan for the future?
    The Almanac provides data going back as far as 2002 and can be used to identify trends over time that allows you to plan ahead. For instance, the Almanac shows how the sector recovered following the 2008 financial crisis.

For more information, explore the fast facts section.

Explain the context your organisation works in

The Almanac provides an overview of the voluntary sector that can be easily shared and understood by those within and outside of the sector.

The Almanac can be used to answer these common questions.

  • How can the Almanac be used to talk to those outside of the sector?
    The Almanac provides data that is easy to understand for those both within and outside of the voluntary sector. In particular, it provides key data on the sector’s contribution to the economy and some comparisons to other sectors.
  • How can the data in the Almanac be used in presentations?
    Download the Almanac data and use these in your presentations.

For more information, explore the fast facts section.

The Almanac gives you a clear understanding of the characteristics and recruitment of those who work in the voluntary sector. This is particularly helpful in understanding the potential impact the job retention scheme (furloughing) may have had on the sector.

The Almanac can be used to answer these questions:

  • How does our employee profile compare to the sector?
    The Almanac provides in-depth information on the paid workforce, including information on the size of the workforce, as well as employment types and contracts.
  • How can the Almanac help towards my diversity and inclusion strategy?
    Improve your organisation’s approach to diversity and inclusion by learning about characteristics of the workforce, including gender, ethnicity, age, education and nationality.
  • How can the Almanac help me to identify potential recruitment challenges?
    See data trends on levels of employment by sector. Identifying key trends can help you predict potential challenges when putting together your recruitment strategy.
  • How can I understand the skills of my workforce and identify potential skills gaps in my organisation?
    Use the Almanac to benchmark the type of skills gaps in your organisation, and see how other organisations address their skills gaps.

For more information, explore the workforce summary.

Improve your volunteer involvement

The Almanac can help you understand your volunteer base and improve the quality of your volunteer strategy or programme.

The Almanac can be used to answer the following questions.

  • How can the Almanac show me how volunteering has changed over time?
    See data trends on volunteering and understand how it has changed in recent years.
  • How can my organisation improve the way it engages with volunteers?
    Understand the motivations of your volunteers and strengthen your volunteering offer.
  • How can my organisation improve how we recruit and induct volunteers?
    Understand the motivations of volunteers and use the resources below to improve your volunteer induction.
  • How can my organisation retain volunteers?
    See the challenges faced by volunteers and build a retention strategy.
  • How can my organisation attract a broader range of volunteers?
    Get a picture of the demographic profile of volunteers, including age and gender, to help you examine your current volunteer base and think about how to attract a wider range of volunteers.

For more information, explore the volunteering overview.