Charity giving in the UK rose by an inflation-busting 8.6% to £10.9bn in 2005/06, driven by donations to international disasters, a report says.
More than a quarter of donations went to overseas causes
Global disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami meant global causes were key beneficiaries, the Charities Aid Foundation found.
The surge in donations compares to inflation which stood at 2.5% last year and three times the rate of UK growth.
Cancer Research was the UK's most popular charity in terms of donations.
Cancer Research received £297m in voluntary donations - almost twice as much as its closest rival Oxfam, which received £176m.
The report showed that charities remain heavily dependent on donations from the public sector with "voluntary income" - donations, grants and gifts-in-kind - representing 38% of their total income.
Goods and services fees made up 34% of the total, while 11% came from fundraising, 11% from legacies, 4% from investment and rent and 2% from the National Lottery.
The main beneficiaries of donor money were overseas causes, as well as aid for children, which received 27.7% of the money donated in 2005/06.
Meanwhile, employment in the sector slipped by 1.8% - with wage costs falling 1.9% - while spending by the Top 500 rose 8% in the 12 months from June 2005 compared with a year earlier.
However, while giving to the UK's Top 500 charities increased, the Charities Aid Foundation called on bigger groups to help smaller organisations.
"This success comes with a responsibility: there is a tremendous amount that these charities could be doing to support and enhance the activities of the UK's smaller charities," said Andrew Jones, executive director of External affairs at the Charities Aid Foundation.
He said collaborating, sharing expertise and resources, merging, conducting sponsorship and joint campaigning were all ways charities could work together better.
"By working more closely with their smaller counterparts, these charities benefit from the networks and community links enjoyed by smaller groups, lend support to less mainstream areas of charitable activity and benefit from their innovation and niche expertise."