The data: availability and dates
How up-to-date is the data?
The data on this website is as recent as possible. The Charity Commission allows charities ten months from the time of their year end to submit their Annual Return, and 77% of charities do meet this deadline. The information provided in the Annual Return submissions is automatically gathered by the Charity Commission every night, and is pulled into their database. Checks are made on the information provided on an ongoing basis, and then once a month the entire database, which contains data on each registered charity and their most recently submitted information is given to CAF. This means that when the site is updated in any given month, the data is updated as of the previous month. For example in mid-September the website will have the latest data uploaded, and this data will include the most recent data for every charity, as of August.
How does the timing of Annual Return submissions affect the key charts and search tool results?
The Charity Commission allows charities ten months from their financial year end to submit their Annual Return form for that year. Typically by October of each year, the vast majority of charities have submitted their Annual Return form relating to the previous financial year, which then gives a full aggregated picture for that year. In terms of the trend charts on the Key Charts page and the charts generated in the search tool, this means that in most cases the most recent charted year’s data is a partial picture which grows each month. The trend line will often indicate a sharp drop to the most recent charted year, but this is because not all data is available, rather than being due to an actual drop in numbers from the previous year. For example, by October 2011 most charities will have submitted their 2010 Annual Return. Although charities are allowed ten months, some are faster and some are slower. For example, in 2009, the average time that charities took to submit their Annual Return was eight months, plus or minus three months.
How often is the data on the website updated?
The data on the website is updated every month, and goes live on the 10th day of every month.