Money matters

A summary of the financial year from our treasurer, Graeme Wallace, and details of our income and spend.

From the treasurer

We continue to pursue our avowed ambition to take action to protect and save birds and other wildlife both in the UK and overseas while, in common with the charity sector as a whole, taking prudent action to manage the financial challenges we face.

In 2017/18 our overall gross income, before investment gains, grew by £4 million from £134 million to £138 million; this is a positive outcome given the uncertain nature of the world in which we are currently operating.

Against this backdrop, our net income available for charitable purposes, before investment gains, rose from £98 million to £101 million and our revenue expenditure remained the same at £99 million. Taken together with some small adjustments for investment gains and the sale of fixed assets, this left us with an operating surplus of £2.6 million.

The operating surplus is calculated after charging depreciation of £4 million, but excludes the acquisition costs of nature reserves, visitor facilities and other assets of £10.7 million. Treating the cost of these assets as an operating expense would result in a deficit of £4.1 million rather than a surplus of £2.6 million and some of our financial reserves have been used to fund this deficit.

Accordingly, our free financial reserves are a bit lower than last year, but they remain well within the acceptable range set by the RSPB's Council. Appropriate steps are being taken to manage our expenditure to ensure that such financial reserves remain within this range. Our balance sheet remains very strong and was helped this year by a £16.7 million reduction in the pension liability due to marginal improvements in the assumptions in respect of interest rates and inflation.

Looking at our major sources of income, our membership and subscriptions remained more or less constant at £51 million gross, which is a good performance given the potential for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to have a negative impact. It is also a testament to the loyalty of our membership which we never forget and for which we are always thankful.

We experienced a decrease in legacy income, which at £30.4 million was £4.3 million less than the previous year. With last year’s figure being the highest ever, some reduction was to be expected and the outlook remains positive.

At £26.7 million, income from grants, corporate bodies and trusts was £5.9 million more than last year with all three elements having grown. The main increases were additional grant funding from DEFRA of £1.6 million and a £3.5 million gift of land at Franchises Lodge in the New Forest. Within land income, the construction of the visitor centre at Sherwood Forest has attracted funding of £2 million from Nottinghamshire County Council.

Our financial reserves provide a buffer against uncertainty. In this context, it's essential that we prioritise work programmes to align expenditure plans with income expectations to continue to maintain these financial reserves.  This combination of balancing the books and holding an appropriate level of financial reserves gives the resilience needed to plan with confidence to meet the challenges that lie ahead for birds, other wildlife and the natural world.

Income and spend

Summarised financial statements for 2017-18

Raising money for charitable purposes

  Income Cost 2018 2017
  £m £m £m £m
Membership subscriptions and donations 51.2 (10.6) 40.6 40.9
Legacies 30.4 (1.1) 29.3 33.7
Grants, corporates and trusts 26.7 (4.1) 22.6 16.6
Trading income 22.4 (21.4) 1.0 2.6
Land income and fees for services 7.1 (0.0) 7.1 4.1
Financial income and investment gains 1.5 (0.1) 1.4 6.6
TOTAL INCOME 139.3 (37.3) 102.0 104.5

Expenditure on charitable purposes

Research, policy and advisory      (36.6)  (36.7)
Managing RSPB reserves      (38.2)  (36.5)
Education and inspiring support      (18.4)  (21.3)
Supporter care      (6.2)
TOTAL EXPENDITURE      (99.4)  (98.9)
Surplus      2.6 5.6

Assets and liabilities

Nature reserves      202.7  196.3
Equipment      4.3  4.1
Total long term assets      207.0  200.4
Pension liability      (73.6)  (90.3)
Cash and investments      25.2
Stock, debtors and creditors      15.4  11.2
Total representing available financial reserves      40.6  47.0
TOTAL      174.0  157.1

Amount held for future purposes

Available financial reserves      40.6  47.0
Held for specific purposes      (11.8)  (13.8)
Free financial reserves      28.8  33.2
Representing future expenditure cover of      14 weeks  16 weeks


Net income for charitable purposes was £104.5 million. Cost of generating income was £36.1 million.

Report by the trustees in the summarised financial statements

These summarised financial statements are extracted from the full statutory trustees’ annual report and financial statements which were approved by the trustees and signed on their behalf. The full financial statements, on which the auditors Crowe U.K. LLP gave an unqualified audit report in September 2018, are available on our website.

The auditors have confirmed to the trustees that, in their opinion, the summarised financial statements are consistent with the full financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2018.

These summarised financial statements may not contain sufficient information to gain a complete understanding of the financial affairs of the charity. The full statutory trustees’ report, financial statements and auditors’ report may be obtained from the Director of Finance,

RSPB UK Headquarters, 

The Lodge, Sandy, 


SG19 2DL.

Signed on behalf of the trustees.

Kevin Cox