Just my Type - An Archetype Analysis of Charity Finances

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Just my Type - An Archetype Analysis of Charity Finances

We've come up with a different way of looking at the charity sector. It is based on an archetype analysis of the income and expenditure types of different charities. It allows charities, donors and others to understand what a benchmark could be for each type of charity, and thus ensure that judgements are made based on norms of income and expenditure for similar charities. At present, using ‘average’ figures for the whole sector is like comparing apples, oranges and bananas by reference to the ‘typical’ fruit.

Our analysis looks at the accounts of over 2500 charities with an income of over £5m and suggests there are six different types of income/expenditure model or archetype. While a charity can be a mix of archetypes, most have a dominant one. The six types starting with the largest category (by number) are:

  • Contractors/service providers
  • Linked trusts
  • Traders
  • Investment trusts
  • Fundraisers
  • Legacy fundraisers
Joe Saxton said:

For some time it’s been clear that the sector is not homogenous. It’s made up of a number of different types of charities who make their living by securing their income, and spending it in different ways. Our analysis demonstrates just how different these charities are, both financially and in terms of staff numbers, highest salary and percentage charitable income & expenditure. We think this work will begin to help people see not one sector, but six who while sharing a legal form, differ greatly in the way they make their money and spend it.

Please download the report or executive overview using the purple download manager located beneath the "Share this Resource" buttons. Once you fill in the form and press 'Download', you will be able to choose which one you would like to download.

If you have any questions or comments, please get in contact with Joe Saxton (joe.saxton@nfpsynergy.net) or Cian (cian.murphy@nfpsynergy.net) who did the hard work on the data analysis and interpretation. Alternatively, leave a message in the comments section below.

Submitted by Kathryn (not verified) on 6 Mar 2017

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)


I'm also having issues trying to download the reports despite following your directions- it doesn't work. So any help would be much appreciated!

Submitted by Lewis Coghlin (not verified) on 1 Mar 2017


This is an excellent piece of analysis, the first of its kind that I've seen. It helps us get under the skin of issues such as whey ROI, % of money spent on service delivery vs fundraising etc varies so much by charities, and the dangers associated with benchmarking against sector averages. It proposes a new classification of charities which personally I find very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

Submitted by Dr John K. Euers PhD (not verified) on 1 Mar 2017


I find reports of this much as I found when I attended a national conference of the NCVO, and in comparison with my experience, that concentrating on charities with this sort of income is beyond our experiences.

It was noted at the above conference that there were some small charities present, those with "less than 1.5M GBP statutory income", there were 5 raised our hands. Of those 5, we were the only charity who not only had an income of less than 100,000 GBP, but also had no statutory income. So I am wondering that regarding the charity sector, those who are in a similar position to us seem to be considered "too small to be of significant interest", yet, we of this size, are much more prevalent "on the ground" than the charities you seem to aim at.

I wonder if the really small charities, below your bottom threshold, are either considered too insignificant, or perhaps too small, fragmented and otherwise not worth bothering about?

Submitted by Helen Foster (not verified) on 6 Mar 2017


An interesting read. I'd suggest a seventh archetype - what I think of as 'quasi-commercial'. Nuffield Health is the immediate example that comes to mind for these, but there are others. These are charities, but are essentially operating in a commercial marketplace with a commercial offer, and other characteristics (such as Chief Exec pay) that are closer to the commercial world.. They are small in number, but can be significant in skewing comparisons, commentary, and criticisms.

Submitted by Nicola Silverleaf (not verified) on 9 May 2019


Really useful to Charity Commission in deciding which metrics could allow valid comparisons to be made. Current ones don’t fit all - or even many.

Submitted by Carole TJ (not verified) on 16 Jun 2019


Where would a membership based organisation like The National Trust fit in the Archetypes? Thank you

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