MORE than a quarter of Britain’s thousands of charities are based on faith, a new report says. The think tank New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) is studying the part played by religion in the charity sector in Understanding Faith-Based Charities by David Bull and Rachel Wharton.
In what it describes as “the most advanced and up-to-date analysis of faith-based charities in Great Britain”, it says that, out of a total of 187,495 organisations, 49,881 (27 per cent) have a religious motivation or history. The statistics are broadly similar across England and Wales, although Scotland has a slightly lower proportion of such charities, at 22 per cent.
When broken down into different groupings, nearly 66 per cent are Christian — 32,183. Charities that describe themselves as “generally faith-based” are the next highest proportion. Muslim charities rank third, at 4.8 per cent of the total.
The rise in faith charities in the past few years has been staggering, the report says: 9000 religious charities were founded between 2006 and 2014 — a period when church attendance was in decline.
The co-author of the report, Rachel Wharton, who is policy and development officer at NPC, said: “Faith and charity have long gone hand-in-hand. But whilst research exists into the influence of faith on giving, volunteering and communities, remarkably little is known about the effect of faith on how charitable organisations operate and what they can achieve.”
She described the motivation behind the report as being “to plug the gap” in knowledge in this area, “especially in the current environment of reduced funding, increasing need, and shifting public opinion”.
“If faith-based charities can achieve things that other organisations can’t, or can work in situations that others aren’t able to, then as a sector we should understand this better, and consider how we can work more effectively together to deliver for those we aim to help.”
The NPC plans to conduct further analysis to break down charitable income by faith and trends in the sector.