Charities come big and small – but the sector is huge. In 2012/13, total UK voluntary sector income was £40.5bn and expenditure £39.3bn. In that year (the most recent for which figures are available), 46% of total income – £18.8bn – came from individuals, through donations and sales of products and services. Other income sources were government grants and contracts, the private sector, the National Lottery and investment returns.
As at March 2014, there were 821,000 people employed in the UK voluntary sector. Total employee numbers rose by nearly 200,000 in the period 2010 to 2014. In addition, about 21 million people in the UK volunteer at least once a year. Employer-supported volunteering has increased.
Demand for qualified accountants is rising as charities become more professional in outlook and many are now geared towards winning public sector contracts, rather than relying on grants. In response to tight cost pressures, charities often employ interim professionals to deal with peak workloads. Charities operate within an environment of tight regulation and public scrutiny, relying on professionals to ensure compliance.
“Charities are seeking qualified accountants with experience in UK GAAP and SORP, with a sense for commercial efficiency,” said Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK. “Commercial acumen is a key skill in demand and as a result professionals with Big Four experience are in high demand. The market for qualified accountants is competitive as demand continues to surpass supply. With qualified accountants in the driver’s seat, organisations need to offer attractive salary and benefits packages to secure top talent.”
Source for statistics: National Council for Voluntary Organisations