Griffon vulture Gyps fulvus, in flight

Money matters

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

From the treasurer

This has been a good financial year for the RSPB, particularly when set against the backdrop of continuing austerity and uncertainty arising from the Brexit vote to leave the EU.

At £105 million, our income available for charitable purposes was the highest ever and we spent £99 million on saving nature, leaving us with a modest surplus of £5 million. 

We invested in saving nature through acquiring new land, through cutting edge scientific research and through education projects inspiring young people and adults.

On the downside, a change in interest rates meant the pension fund deficit, having recovered somewhat last year, went up substantially. However at the year end we maintained £33 million of free financial reserves, enabling us to plan for the future.

Our successes reported this year were made possible through your generosity. Our appeal to you to help buy a 112-hectare extension to Mersehead nature reserve in Dumfries and Galloway brought in a magnificent £285,000.

Our income grew by 4% on last year through a mixture of consistently strong performance in some areas and some one-off windfalls. 

We maintain a diversity of income streams to build stability in the RSPB's available resources. Our biggest income is from you, our supporters. £74 million net comes from individual supporters, backed up by another record – we now have 1,222,985 members!

Through the humbling generosity of our supporters, legacy income reached an all-time high of £34 million net. 

Trading income rose again to £23 million gross, with our high ethical and sustainability standards helping to build trust and loyalty in our customers.

In 2016/17 we increased our spending by £1.7 million to £99 million, and we spent a further £4.6 million on acquiring land and investing in our visitor facilities.

We are committed to putting our income and financial reserves to work as soon as possible. Free financial reserves are held at a modest level to maximise the funds that are available for conservation needs. In calculating our free financial reserves we have previously kept this to eight weeks of expenditure, but we have now extended this to 16 weeks in the anticipation that this will fall over the next three years as we adapt to a changing and increasingly competitive funding environment.

From a financial perspective, there is much to celebrate and be optimistic about. Income has grown consistently for a number of years and this is testament to a resilient organisation with varied income streams.

Despite the financial crash of 2008 and the years of financial challenge that have followed, expenditure on conservation and the RSPB's charitable objects has risen every year for the last 15 years.

Our science programme, our nature reserves, the heartening stories of recovery of cirl buntings in south-west England and albatrosses in the southern oceans are the fruits of our strong financial performance over many years. 

Ultimately that is down to the support of our funders, partners, supporters and members. Your support enables us to make a difference and to save nature.

Thank you.

Graeme Wallace

Income and spend

Summarised financial statements for 2016-17

Raising money for charitable purposes

  £m £m £m £m
Membership subscriptions and donations 51.4 (10.5) 40.9 35.4
Legacies 34.7 (1.0) 33.7 33.2
Grants, corporates and trusts 20.8 (4.2) 16.6 20.5
Trading income 22.9 (20.3) 2.6 2.4
Land income and fees for services 4.1 (0.0) 4.1 7.6
Financial income and investment gains 6.7 (0.1) 6.6 1.6
TOTAL INCOME 140.6 (36.1) 104.5 100.7

Expenditure on charitable purposes

Research, policy and advisory      (36.7)  (37.4)
Managing RSPB reserves      (36.5)  (34.0)
Education and inspiring support      (21.3)  (21.5)
Supporter care      (4.4)
TOTAL EXPENDITURE      (98.9)  (97.3)
Surplus      5.6 3.4 

Assets and liabilities

Nature reserves      196.3  194.3
Equipment      4.1  4.3
Total long term assets      200.4  198.6
Pension liability      (90.3)  (59.0)
Cash and investments      35.8  32.3
Stock, debtors and creditors      11.2  11.9
Total representing available financial reserves      47.0  44.2
TOTAL      157.1  183.8

Amount held for future purposes

Available financial reserves      47.0  44.2
Held for specific purposes      (13.8)  (12.5)
Free financial reserves      33.2  31.7
Representing future expenditure cover of      16 weeks  16 weeks



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

Pie chart showing £140.8 million income
Summary of total income
Pie chart showing spend of £98.9 million
Key showing total spend

Report by the trustees on 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 Clark Whitehill LLP gave an unqualified audit report in August 2017, 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 2017.

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, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL.

Signed on behalf of the trustees.

Steve Ormerod

Ling heather Calluna vulgaris. Corrimony RSPB reserve. Scotland.