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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Never-seen-before analysis of NI charity sector released by Commission

Northern Ireland’s charity regulator has today released a report which reveals previously unknown details about Northern Ireland’s charity sector, to mark three years of charity registration.

The report, compiled from the registration details of charities gathered since 2013, reveals that:


  • Combined income of charities registered to date stands at just over ?1billion – around 10% of the money available to devolved government
  • 72% of NI charities have an income of ?100,000 or less
  • One-third have an income of ?10,000 or less, and 24% have an income of ?5,000 or less
  • The top 20% of charities by income account for 88% of combined charity income.


  • County Antrim is home to the most charities - despite having only 34% of the population, it is home 44% of charities
  • 45% of NI-registered charities work in their local area only. Only 8% work internationally.


  • Half of charities here work to benefit the whole public rather than address the needs of a specific section
  • 57% of our charities exist to advance education. 28% exist to advance religion. 2% exist to advance animal welfare.


  • 345 charities (7%) list ‘interface communities’ as one of their beneficiary groups
  • 213 charities (4%) exist to help ex-offenders and prisoners


  • There is an equitable gender split among governance volunteers with 50.1% males and 49.9% females making up Northern Ireland’s charity trustees
  • 63% of charity trustees are aged over 50, with 5% of charity trustees being under the age of 30.

While the registration process is ongoing, with 5,300 charities registered out of an estimated total of between 11,000 and 17,500, the information currently held by the Commission provides never-before available information about Northern Ireland’s charity sector.

Commission Chief Executive Frances McCandless said:

“Charity registration has enabled us to put together this previously unseen picture of charities in Northern Ireland, revealing the extent to which charities operate here, their income, their governance, and their focus.

“We hope that the report can be of use to the sector, to the general public and to government.”

Download 20161219 The Northern Ireland register of charities - three years on. PDF (1.3 MB)