How we spend your donations

7 December 2015        

Category: About BHF

A researcher in a lab

You may have seen stories in the press criticising charities and the amount of income they spend on charitable activities. At the BHF around 78p of every pound we raise is used to fight heart disease.

Last year, we raised more than £147 million. This was thanks to the efforts of supporters like you, as we receive no government funding for our research.

The costs of fundraising and governing the charity last year were £32.7 million. This means nearly 78 per cent (£114.6m) of the money we raised was available for our life saving research and supporting heart patients.

In other words, for every £1 we raised, around 78p was available for directly fighting heart and circulatory disease including heart attacks, strokes and congenital heart defects.

78p in every pound goes on our life saving work.

How do we raise money?

We raise funds in a variety of ways including through donations from our supporters, people leaving gifts in their wills, fundraising days like Wear it. Beat it. and challenge events such as the London to Brighton Bike Ride.

We also run the UK’s largest network of charity shops, in which 23,000 volunteers transform 60,000 tonnes of donated stock in to nearly £30 million for life saving research in a year.

Your fundraising efforts - whether it’s participating in an event, donating to our shops, or giving cash - all funds research that has helped to improve the survival chances of people suffering from heart disease worldwide.     

Why have some parts of the press got it wrong?

Over the last few months some parts of the media have been questioning the amount of money UK charities spend on charitable activities.

They often ignore the fact that all charities are different, and so need different strategies to raise funds which they can then spend on achieving their charitable objectives.

For example, a small charity which relies on street collecting alone or a charitable trust might have very low costs when it comes to income generation.

In contrast, a charity like ours raises funds in a variety of ways including through the UK’s largest network of charity shops. Like all retailers, there are costs involved in doing this including rent, staff wages and the collection of donated stock. However, without investing this money we would generate significantly less for our life saving research every year.

Our shops on your high street

In fact, our shops are by far the largest and most profitable of any charity in the UK with over 700 stores nationwide. In 2014/15, by spending £140.9m, we were able to generate a profit of nearly £30 million. That’s £30 million we can now spend on life saving research. 

To give a fair reflection of the effectiveness of people’s donations, we include the net contribution our shops make to the BHF (i.e. profit) when making the 78 per cent calculation.

Our shops also support our charitable work by providing a place in the community where people can access information about heart health, find out more about the BHF, and learn life saving CPR.

The fact that we invest in running a network of charity shops to generate funds for life saving research does not make us any more or less effective than a charity which relies purely on donations. It just means we have different strategies for raising funds which we can then use to improve people’s lives.

How do we use your money?

We want to set the record straight, because any suggestion of poor financial management or wasting your donations is completely at odds with our determination to beat heart disease.

Your donations fund more than half of all cardiovascular research that happens in UK universities and hospitals.

Over the last 50 years, these donations have helped to make the breakthroughs that have halved death rates from heart and circulatory disease in the UK. And they have helped improve treatments that mean most babies born with congenital heart disease now survive to adulthood.

Much more progress to be made

However, seven million people in the UK still live with the daily burden of heart and circulatory disease and it’s responsible for more than a quarter of all deaths. There is still so much more we need to do.
With your continued support, over the next 5 years we will fund more than half a billion pounds of cardiovascular research that could save many more lives.