How to use the Almanac

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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.

The Almanac is an essential tool for your organisation. On this page, you can find out how to use it to:

'A data source such as the Almanac can help build understanding of the sector’s work, and support policy and decision making. This is even more important at a time when organisations are operating in a challenging environment.' – Véronique Jochum, Head of Research, NCVO

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

How can the Almanac help?

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 data and use these in your presentations. Check out our presentation on the Almanac to see how data can be used in presentations.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

For more information, explore the fast facts section.

'I use the Almanac in my presentations to a range of audiences to give some social, political and economic context to the voluntary sector and show changes over time. The data and visualisations are quick and useful content to show the breadth and diversity of the sector and the key facts and figures behind the big picture issues we face.' – Myles Kunzli, Sector Support Manager, NCVO

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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.

How can the Almanac help?

The Almanac can be used to answer these 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 against those of a similar size?
    The Almanac provides data on organisations of different sizes, including information on smaller charities.
  • How well is my organisation performing against 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.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

For more information, explore the fast facts section.

'The Almanac alone is worth the subscription fee! Even if you are struggling to exist as we are.' – Hemlington Detached Youth Work Project Limited (member)

NCVO resources

Use this helpful briefing from charity accounting firm Crowe to understand the process, opportunities and challenges of benchmarking for charities.

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Inform your financial plan and fundraising strategy

The Almanac provides up-to-date financial information and data on different funding streams which can aid your organisation in financial planning and identify potential gaps in your fundraising strategy.

How can the Almanac help?

The Almanac can be used to answer these questions:

  • 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 can the Almanac help me understand and benchmark my current funding situation?
    Identify gaps in your current funding streams and compare your organisation to others of a similar size.
  • 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.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

For more information, explore the financial overview.

'This information and data will be most useful when constructing bids of funding as they show the scope of the work being carried out by the voluntary sector.' – Emmanuel House Day Centre (member)

NCVO resources

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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.

How can the Almanac help?

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 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 out-goings?
    Use the Almanac to understand your income:spending ratio and determine if this is appropriate given your organisations context.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

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

'I use the Almanac when working with boards to compare their organisation’s operating model with the wider sector. I also use it to ask questions about where money comes from and where it goes and to justify the ratios that boards establish.' – Dan Francis, Lead Consultant, NCVO

NCVO resources

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Influence policy and strengthen your campaigns

The Almanac provides reliable data that can be used to understand the sector, influence policy and inform your campaigns.

How can the Almanac help?

The Almanac can be used to answer these common 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 social and economic contributions, 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 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 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.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

For more information, explore the impact section.

'The Almanac is a unique source of facts for many of the policy documents I produce, including responses to government consultations. It’s especially valuable for highlighting the economic contribution the sector makes and the central role charities play in the delivery of public services. It also allows me to monitor important trends, such as the extent to which income is derived from the public, government or earned sources.' – Paul Winyard, Senior Policy Officer, NCVO

NCVO resources

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Understand workforce trends

The Almanac gives you a clear understanding of the characteristics and recruitment of those who work in the voluntary sector.

How can the Almanac help?

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 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.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

For more information, explore the workforce summary.

'The clear layout is easy to follow and helps keep a strategic perspective to review how we are working.' – Campaign for Learning (member)

NCVO resources

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Improve your volunteer involvement

The Almanac along with the Time Well Spent report, can help you improve the quality of your volunteer strategy or programme.

How can the Almanac help?

The Almanac can be used to answer these questions:

  • How can the Almanac help me to understand how volunteering has changed over time?
    See data trends on volunteering and understand how it’s 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 attract a wider range of volunteers.

Where can I find this in the Almanac?

For more information, explore the volunteering overview.

'The Almanac contains data on volunteering statistics across the UK. The data will help you to gain a picture of volunteering behaviour, activities, barriers and perceptions. Use the Almanac to develop your approach to volunteering and to shape your volunteering offer.' – Jarina Choudhury, Volunteering Development Consultancy Officer, NCVO

NCVO resources

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