Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS)

Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS)

This page helps you to find out more information on the voluntary sector in Cambridgeshire. It highlights local research and you can also find other local information in our document library and local datasets relating to the voluntary sector in our Open Data portal. 

Our Open Data portal also includes data released by Cambridgeshire County Council to support applications for the Cambridgeshire Innovate and Cultivate Fund.

An Introduction to the sector in Cambridgeshire.

The VCS is made up of those organisations registered with the charity commission and a far larger number of unregistered community organisations. We know little about the small organisations that do not engage with Support Cambridgeshire but we do know that around 60% of the membership have incomes below £50,000 a year and that many of these will be unregistered.

Analysing the Charity Commission data we learn that

  • 2,100 registered charities operate in Cambridgeshire once the national ones are removed and also once non traditional charities are removed.
  • In 2021-22 (the latest year with full financial data), they had an income of nearly £300m and spending of £270m.
  • These charities employ an estimated 5,300 people, with over 30,000 volunteers and nearly 11,000 trustees recorded with the Charity Commission.
  • Most charities are small: over 80% have an income of less than £100,000. The largest six charities, with income over £10m, account for 29% of total spending.

Annual Support Cambridgeshire Survey

Support Cambridgeshire is a county wide partnership funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, bringing together infrastructure organisations who work together to support community groups and organisations across Cambridgeshire. It is a partnership between Hunts Forum of Voluntary Organisations and Cambridge Council for Voluntary Services that aims to deliver better outcomes for local organisations across the county, with the expectation of a more robust and more vibrant voluntary and community sector.

An annual survey is carried out by Support Cambridgeshire to look at the state of the local voluntary sector.

Read the 2023 results below


Support Cambridgeshire have completed their annual survey to find out about the state of the voluntary sector in Cambridgeshire, and this year we have also worked with a data scientist to analyse what national data from the Charity Commission and 360 Giving tells us about local charities.

We know that local charities and community groups have continued to deliver vital support and services through the pandemic and now through the cost of living crisis, but this survey points to the toll this is taking on staff and volunteers. Less organisations were optimistic that this year would be better than 2022 for them compared to 12 months ago. Groups are struggling to find the funds and volunteers they need to meet the demands put on them. Across the county the amount of money going into the sector and the numbers of groups available to offer support is uneven.

We can not take our local charities and community groups for granted. The work they do is still #NeverMoreNeeded. We know that so many people rely on, or benefit from, their work.  The partners in Support Cambridgeshire will continue to offer all the help and advice they can to enable our local voluntary sector to thrive and prosper, but we need others to join in this effort or we will see more groups closing and more services disappearing.

Download the main survey report here.

Read the blog that highlights some key points here

This year we have worked with David Kane of Kane Data to analyse some of the data that is available from national datasets. The report is based on analysis of data from the Charity Commission for England and Wales, supplemented with additional data including:

  • Geographic data, including post code lookups, from the Office for National Statistics
  • Population data from Office for National Statistics
  • Inflation data (using the RPIX measure) from Office for National Statistics
  • Charity Classification from charityclassification.org.uk
  • Data from grantmakers published using the 360Giving Data Standard.

We worked to exclude those charities that were obviously mistakenly connected with the county as well as charities that mainly worked nationally or internationally but are based in the county. We also excluded independent schools and the university colleges.

This report helps us understand the numbers and sizes of charities and how they are spread across the county, it also gives us an indication of the grants that come into the sector from those grant funders that publish their data on the 360m giving platform.

Read the report from Kane Data here


There are a number of directories that can help you find voluntary organisations across the county.

Each district has a How Are You (HAY) page. Find out more here.

How Are You (H.A.Y.) is a community engagement team working within Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust who think creatively about solutions to mental health need and connect community assets to clinical care. The team manage this set of local websites which bring together everything in the local community that is good for wellbeing. They then use the websites to share knowledge with both the general public and those working and volunteering to support people across the county.

In Cambridge there is the Cambridge Resilience web. In their words a resilience web is “a holistic visualisation of environmental and social justice groups in a place, curated by people who live there. These webs are intended to help the discovery, collaboration and networking between activists and groups around issues that they care about.”