News story

2010 National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises

The results of the 2010 National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises (NSCSE) are released today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

29th June 2011

The results of the 2010 National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises (NSCSE) are released today, providing a tool for citizens, communities, the sector and all levels of government to understand the environment within the sector and how this has changed since the 2008 publication.

This survey is the largest of its kind, gathering the views of over 44,000 sector organisations on a host of issues important to their success and vitality, and aims to provide all audiences with the information needed to support the sector in building a stronger civil society.

Full 2010 results are published at, and demonstrate clear progress since 2008, in addition to highlighting opportunities for further support and action. Key findings show:

  • The sector has an increased role in delivering public services - a quarter (24%) of organisations reported this to be their main role in 2010, compared with 14% in 2008.
  • Improved relationships with local statutory bodies since 2008, with organisations feeling more valued, understood and respected and a greater proportion reporting local statutory bodies have a positive influence on their success (1). However, organisations wish to be more involved in developing policy that affects them and more able to influence local decisions.(2)
  • Greater levels of mutual support within the sector, and greater levels of satisfaction with this support(3), however there are clear needs around support to find volunteers, apply for funding or bid for contracts and maintain sufficient financial reserves.
  • The importance of voluntary income to the sector, with nearly a third (31%) citing this as their most important income source.  As in 2008, 37% of organisations reported receiving some form of statutory funding and 14% cite this as their most important income source.
  • A confident outlook over the next 12 months, with improved levels of resources since 2008. However those in receipt of statutory funding are less confident of success in the future.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, said:

I would like to see this important resource lead to improved working relationships between the sector and statutory bodies. I have written to local authorities encouraging them to explore the results with their local sector, and encourage all audiences to use this tool to identify and drive positive change in local areas.

Whilst the survey is relevant to a range of audiences, central government is exploring and addressing findings within its responsibility, including improving commissioning practice, opening up new contract and finance opportunities and encouraging volunteering and donations.  This will build on and inform our current support for the sector, such as the Big Society Bank and funding to transform local infrastructure, in addition to many other policies and programmes.

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

This survey sheds useful light on the progress charities and social enterprises have made in recent years, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.  While it is encouraging to see that organisations generally report having had sufficient levels of resources and were successful in meeting their main objectives over the last 12 months, the concerns of many in receipt of statutory funding highlight the importance of effective partnership working between voluntary organisations and all levels of government.  I encourage all audiences to engage with this resource, so that they can understand the diverse and vital role that the sector plays within British society.

National and local authority level results for 2010 and 2008 are published at together with an online tool to further explore the findings and compare results across local authorities.  Further analysis and reports will be released in due course, also at

Note on methodology

  • The National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises (NSCSE) was conducted by Ipsos MORI amongst charitable, voluntary, and social enterprise organisations across all 151 upper tier local authorities in England from September 2010 to January 2011. The survey followed, and is compared to, the 2008 National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO). This survey was conducted September to December 2008 in all 149 upper tier local authorities in England in existence at that time.
  • In total 112,796 organisations across all 151 single and two-tier authorities in England were invited to participate in the NSCSE. Paper questionnaires were mailed to all selected organisations (along with a link enabling them to access the survey online). Reminder questionnaires were also sent out to organisations, with telephone reminders conducted with a sample of non-responding organisations. Organisations were able to complete the survey either online or on paper throughout the fieldwork period. The 2008 survey followed broadly the same methodology (104,391 organisations received a survey in 2008).
  • A database of organisations drawing on the list of registered charities and registers of Community Interest Companies, Companies Limited by Guarantee and Industrial and Provident Societies in England, was supplied by BMG research and Guidestar UK for both surveys. Calculations were conducted to obtain the ideal number of organisations required to be asked to complete the survey to achieve robustness.  In some areas a census survey was conducted (i.e. all organisations were asked to take part), and in others a random stratified sample of organisations was constructed, using organisation type (registered charity, CIC, CLG or IPS) as the main stratifier. Registered charities were further stratified according to income.
  • A total of 44,109 third sector organisations responded to the 2010 survey - this was a 41% response rate. In 2008, 48,939 responded, a response rate of 47%.
  • Data from both surveys have been weighted within each local authority and at a national level to ensure results are representative of the make up of organisations according to organisational type. 


  1. 18% of organisations report that local statutory bodies have a positive influence on their success, compared to 16% in 2008. Across local authorities this percentage ranged from 9% in Thurrock UA to 28% in St Helens.
  2. 24% of organisations are dissatisfied with their ability to influence local decisions relevant to their organisation, compared to 26% in 2008; 27% are dissatisfied with their involvement in developing and carrying out local policy on issues that affect them, compared with 30% in 2008.
  3. 22% of organisations report receiving support from other charities, social enterprises, and/or voluntary organisations, compared to 18% in 2008. Overall 19% were satisfied with such support, compared to 15% in 2008
Published 29 June 2011