Aid agencies lose out to charities

Cancer Research UK remains the country's biggest-earning charity, with an income of £338.9m, the annual report by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) says.

The National Trust comes second, with an income of £235.2m, then the children's charity NCH, Oxfam and Barnardo's.

Voluntary income to the UK's largest aid agencies, such as Oxfam and Christian Aid, fell by 7 per cent last year and donations to cancer charities rose by 19 per cent. The report covers the year 2003-04, so will not reflect the effect of the Boxing Day tsunami.

Experts believe donations to aid agencies will increase massively in 2005 after the unprecedented public response to the disaster. Overall, charitable giving increased by 2.9 per cent last year, with the top 500 charities receiving £4.9bn.

Charitable donations from big corporations also increased, by 3.4 per cent, to nearly £900m. The global drugs company GlaxoSmithKline was the biggest corporate donor, accounting for more than a third of the total amount donated.

Other big business givers included the Royal Bank of Scotland, BP and the Vodafone Group.