Religion is already a major component of the Big Society, even on a narrow definition, and without taking full account of the wider contribution of faith communities to the development of the country’s social capital.
For example, 19% of charities and social enterprises in England claim to undertake specifically religious or faith-based activities, and 13% describe this as their main focus.
14% regard the advancement of religion or spiritual welfare through the support of religious or spiritual practice as one of their roles and 11% as a principal goal.
18% consider faith communities as clients, users or beneficiaries of their work, and 8% as their main audience.
These are some of the findings from the 2010 National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises (NSCSE), which was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Office for Civil Society (part of the Cabinet Office) and published on 6 July 2011.
The data derive from self-completion postal questionnaires sent out in September 2010 to a sample of charities, social enterprises and voluntary organizations across all 151 single and two-tier local authorities in England. 44,109 of them, or 41%, had replied (by post or online survey link) by the close of fieldwork in January 2011.
National topline data, reports for all 151 local authorities, and an online reporting tool for customized queries are already available on the NSCSE website. The complete dataset and technical report will also be available there within a few weeks. See:
The NSCSE is comparable to the 2008 National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO), which was carried out between September and December 2008 in all 149 upper-tier local authorities in England in existence at that time. This achieved responses from 48,939 organizations, 47% of those sampled.
A database of organizations drawing on the list of registered charities and registers of Community Interest Companies, Companies Limited by Guarantee and Industrial and Provident Societies in England was supplied by Guidestar UK as the basis for both surveys.