Under British law, an organisation is only allowed to promote itself as a charity – doing things like asking for donations in public – if it has been granted Registered Charity status by the Charity Commission, and there are strict legal guidelines placed upon this.


However, there are a number of exceptions that mean a body may not need to apply to be a Registered Charity – namely, those that are promoting religion, or are responsible for turnovers of less than £5,000 per year.

Judged by donations received annually, the largest charitable organisation in the UK is The GAVI Fund (a body that deals with immunising people in the developing world) closely followed by The Arts Council of England (which funds a variety of arts projects in the UK) – however, most of the donations for each either come from business or from secondary government-backed sources such as the National Lottery.

In terms of contributions made by the British public, it is currently estimated that Cancer Research, Save the Children, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Oxfam and The British Red Cross are the five largest organisations of their kind. The RSCPA, Christian Aid and the British Heart Foundation are other notable beneficiaries of high income through public donations.

The financial restraints placed upon many families following the credit crunch has led to a decline in contributions made to charities – which in turn has created a marketplace more competitive than ever. Many have criticised the use of fundraisers in city centres around the UK, and the ongoing tactic of high-budget television market continues to be a bone of contention for some.

John introduces the charities’ section of Contact Numbers UK; highlighting examples of the UK’s leading charities and common reasons why people try to contact them.