Charities Industry Guide

Donkeys, Oxfam and RNLI

This is a guide to some of the resources available within the British Library Business & IP Centre and other parts of the British Library that will be useful if you are researching charities. It will also include resources that are free on the web.

For more academic and social and political texts on charities and NGOs see the enquiry desk in the Social Sciences Reading Room.

Charity Databases

The Charity Commission - Register of Charities
Free online
You can search for charities by name or number. Reports include full details of latest accounts and financial history, contacts and trustees, aims and objectives.
Visit the website and click on Search for a Charity
There are similar organisations for Scottish and Northern Irish charities – see Internet Sources

FAME database
Available in the Business & IP Centre. This has the accounts and other details of all UK and Irish limited companies. Many charities, especially the larger ones, are also companies ‘limited by guarantee’ and will therefore appear on this and some other databases.
Charities Aid Foundation
Searchable database, by name and criteria. Gives basic data on charities such as address, contacts and recent financial trends.

Charity Choice
Commercially run website. You can search for charities by name and sector and download free reports with basic information on spending, how much raised for every £1 spent on fundraising and a five year financial summary. You can pay for more detailed reports. 

Start-Up Information

COBRA logo
accessible via electronic databases
The Cobra database contains practical fact-sheets on all aspects of starting, running and managing a small business – including information on writing business plans, marketing, company structures etc.

It also covers the practical aspects of how to start and run particular types of businesses – outlining necessary skills, regulations, licences and legislation etc. and highlights other sources of information and advice available.
Setting Up & Registering a Charity BIF469 
Charities (Coronavirus Update) SEC087 
Charity Shop  BOP571 
Legal Structures for ‘Not-for-Profit’ Organisations  BIF349 
Charities Sector Update [recent developments]  SEC014 
Setting Up a Community Interest Company [these are not charities but can be connected with them]  BIF445 
Setting Up a Company Limited by Guarantee [these are the types of limited company that charities often set up]  BIF526 

Small Business Help and Other Books

Books with SBH in the shelfmark are on open access in the Centre. Other books may be in other parts of the library and need to be ordered via Explore the British Library.

Charity Administration Handbook by Don Bowtree & Kate Kirkland (6th edition, Bloomsbury Professional, 2018) [ELD.DS.310740 – electronic copy viewable on library computers via the catalogue – also paper copy can be ordered via the catalogue YK.2019.a.1688]
The standard handbook on charity administration – covers everything from setting up to winding up a charity.

Running a Charity by Mark Mullen (4th edition, Jordan Publishing, 2015) [SBH BT.91]
Basic text on legal, financial, regulatory and practical aspects of setting up and running a charity. Explains was administrators and trustees need to know to comply with the law.

Setting Up and Running Charity Shops by John Tough (Association of Charity Shops, 2006) [SBH BT.97]
Includes property and siting, shop fitting, pricing, stock acquisition and management, training and marketing. 

Market Research & Statistics 

If you are planning on starting a business you will need to be aware of the latest trends, developments and opportunities within your industry which can all be found from market research.

Market research also covers market size and forecasts, consumer demographics and attitudes, the key players and products and will often include SWOT and PEST analysis showing areas of strength, weakness, opportunities etc. 

IBISWorld logo

  • Charities in the UK (UK0.039)

Mintel logo

  • Charitable Giving including Impact of Covid 19

Please note that many articles about the charities, voluntary bodies and social enterprises (from business journals and newspapers) are available from our electronic sources: eMarketer, Business Source Complete (EBSCO), Factiva, ABI Inform Global.

‘Local Data Online’ can be used for locating charity shop distribution. There may be other areas that charities operate in that are covered in the Market Research databases e.g. health, social care, entertainment etc.

Printed Market Research Reports and Publications on the Internet

Charities & the Voluntary Sector: Statistics (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper, 2017) Statistics on the size, income and activities of the voluntary sector. Free online (pdf at bottom of page).

Charity Shops – Survey (Civil Society Media, annual) [(B) MKT 381.19 Bus]
Survey of shop numbers, paid staff, volunteers, rent and other findings. Includes league tables. 

Charity Street II (Charities Aid Foundation, 2016). Online. A report into the use of charities in the UK. Click on link at bottom of page.

UK Civil Society Almanac (National Council for Voluntary Organisations, annual) Humanities [Must be ordered via Explore the British Library: ZC.9.a.6787] (Back issues back to 2008) Free online.
Annual survey of volunteering activities in the UK including statistics, geographical breakdown, activities and finance.

UK Giving (Charities Aid Foundation, annual) Online. Overview of charity giving during the year. Latest edition can be requested online.

World Giving Index (Charities Aid Foundation, annual). Global study of generosity. Free online.

Business News & Journals

In order to find the latest news on your topic it is always worth searching Factiva, Business Source Complete and EMIS.

You will find articles from specialist business and academic journals, as well as newspapers and magazines. You may also find market research reports and case studies. As well as profiles of leading industry figures.

You will also find articles covering recent developments, and predicting future trends in your industry.

Magazines and Newsletters

Useful for gaining inside knowledge, recent trends, industry news, company profiles, reviews of new products and services. Some contain annual reviews and company contact lists. Ordered via Explore the British Library (please ask for help) or may be free on the internet.

Charities Management (Mitre House, bi-monthly) [Humanities: ZC.9.b.4870]
Library only has up to 2012 in print but some content free online.  

Charity Finance (Civil Society Media, monthy) [Humanities: ZC.9.b.7858] – latest editions in Social Sciences. 
Magazine aimed at those working on the financial side of charities especially accounting, investment and property. 

Charity Times (Perspective Publishing, Bi-Monthly) [Humanities: ZK.9.b.12181]
Covers all aspects of managing charities including, finance, investment, fundraising, trusts etc.

The Fundraiser (Waterlow, monthly)  Free on the web (Library has print issues up to 2014) [Humanities: ZK.9.b.29041]

Fundraising (Civil Society Media, Monthly) [Humanities: ZK.9.b.29267]
Magazine covers the latest news, issues and views on fundraising activities in charities.

Governance and Compliance (ICSA, monthly) [(P) 6589.4006041-E(1) Bus]
Magazine for secretaries of companies but also charities and other non-profit bodies. 

Third Sector (Haymarket, Monthly) [Humanities: ZK.9.d.1011]
Features, news and analysis for those working in the charities sector.  


Contain lists of charities and industry contacts. Some have annual reviews and specialist articles.

Charities & Appeals Directory (Mulberry Publications, annual) [(B) DIR 361.702541 Bus]
Brief listings of charities. Aimed at funeral directors for legacies etc.

Charities Digest (Wilmington, annual) [(B) DIR 361.76 Bus]
Selective list of charities and voluntary organisations. Includes listings of law centres, citizens advice bureau, hospices etc. Good for sourcing smaller regional charities.

Charity Choice UK (Charity Choice/Wilmington, annual) [(B) 361.7632 Bus]
Short profiles of charities arranged by subject e.g. animals, hospitals, heritage etc. Has extensive advertising. Linked to the Charity Choice website [see under databases above].

Directory of Approved Consultants (NCVO, annual) [(B) DIR 361.3702541 Bus]
Brief listing of recommended consultants specialising in charity and not for profit.

Directory of Grant Making Trusts (Directory of Social Change, annual) [(B) DIR 361.763 Bus]
Standard guide for those seeking grants and funding for projects etc. Trusts are mostly charities. Includes listings by geography, field of work and types of grant.

Europa International Foundation Directory (Routledge, 2013) [(B) DIR 361.7632025 Bus for 2013 edition / Humanities Reading Room OPQ 060 for 2014 edition]
International directory of foundations, charitable and grant-making NGOs and similar not for profit organisations. 

Guide to the Major Trusts (Directory of Social Change, annual) [(B) DIR 361.7632 Bus]
Profiles of trusts that give grants with details of beneficial areas, application process etc.

Guide to UK Company Giving (Directory of Social Change, annual) [(B) DIR 361.76502541 Bus]
Survey of large companies and organisations with their sponsorship and donations policy and records, their CSR policy and contacts.

Law Society Gazette Charity & Appeals Directory (Law Society, annual) [(B) DIR 361.76302541 Bus]
Brief profiles of charities (and extensive advertising). Aimed at legacies etc.

Top 3000 Charities (Wilmington, annual) [(B) 361.7632 Bus]
Comprehensive work covering five years’ worth of financials in neat summaries for each charity. Includes league tables and rankings and listing of investment firms serving charities.

The Voluntary Agencies Directory (National Council for Voluntary Organisations, annual) [(B) DIR 062 Bus]
Detailed directory of voluntary organisations, most of whom are charities. Includes income figure and volunteer numbers. Good subject index. 

Internet Sources

Websites containing free sources of industry statistics, information and contacts.

Regulatory Bodies

Charity Commission for England & Wales

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland

The above websites, as well as having searchable databases of charities also have guidance on setting up a charity in their jurisdiction as well as facts and figures on charities.

Other Useful Websites

Association of Charitable Foundations

UK association of foundations and charities that makes grants etc. Site includes details of policy, events etc. 

Association of Fundraising Consultants

UK membership organisation. Includes a list of members

Big Issue Invest

Funding arm of Big Issue magazine funding charities and social enterprises. Site includes details of the fund plus other sources and research.  

The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network – How To Guides

The Guardian newspaper’s free ‘How To’ guides for small charities.

Charities Act 2011

Main piece of legislation setting out how charities in England and Wales are regulated.  

Charities Aid Foundation

A charity for charities. Helps them by fostering effective giving and fundraising. Activities include research, training and operating the CAF Bank. 

Charity Brand Index

From Third Sector magazine. Detailed survey of charities. Summary on website but report is for sale and quite expensive. 

Charity Retail Association

Association of charities who operate in the retail sector including recyclers. Site includes market information and details of service suppliers to charity shops etc. 

Chartered Institute of Fundraising

(Formerly the Institute of Fundraising). Site includes guidance and research for fundraisers including regulations and professional development.

Civil Society Media

Media company serving the charities sector. Publishes reports and other publications (usually paid for), but site also includes free news, job opportunities, events details etc. 

Directory of Social Change (DSC)

DSC publishes resources and books on charity fundraising, grant finding and voluntary groups. Site includes details of publications and their training courses.  

Federation for Social Improvement (The FSI) 

Charity supporting small and local charities. Site contains details of services, training etc. Also access to the Small Charities Index, Skills Survey and other research documents.  

IT for Charities 

Website giving free information for charities on software products, IT services, CRM and resources.  

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Champions voluntary organisations and volunteering. Site includes research, details of publications, training etc.  

NFP Synergy

Charity consultancy. They have some free resources on their site including news, press releases and statistics. 

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

Scottish association, similar to the NCVO above.  

Small Charities Coalition

Membership body for smaller charities (under £1m annual income). Site includes: guide to free resources, details of events, news and a newsletter. 

UK Fundraising

News and information site for the fundraising industry. Includes blogs, training, discussion forums, details of suppliers etc.  

Please note that every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however some recently acquired items may since have been added to the collection. Please ask for help at the enquiry desk or check the online catalogue Explore the British Library for more details.

Images The Donkey Sanctuary, Wikimedia Commons, RNLI