The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) aims to enhance our knowledge of the sector through independent and critical research, giving us a better understanding of the value of the sector and how this can be maximised.

We work closely with practitioners, policy makers, and other academics to gain input into our research and explore its findings.

This page summarises key information about the Centre and its work - follow the links below to explore in more detail.


What is the third sector?

The third sector is a debated term. We take a broad definition, to include all organisations operating outside the formal state or public sphere that are not trading commercially for profit in the market. 

This means charities and voluntary organisations, community groups, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals. Whilst these organisations are exceptionally diverse, they share a broad common theme of being value driven.

Our research

Our research is divided into research streams focused on different areas of the sector. All research papers are published on our website, along with summaries and short ‘briefing papers’.

The Centre

The Centre is based at the University of Birmingham, with contributions from the Universities of Southampton and Lincoln. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

Knowledge exchange

We have an Advisory Board and Reference Groups, and hold regular events to discuss the implications of our research.

Building capacity

TSRC is reviewing existing research and building comprehensive databases to create lasting resources for third sector research.

We are also working to grow the sector's potential to use and conduct research, through collaborative research projects.

Knowledge Portal: increasing access to research

TSRC is committed to helping people access research on the sector. Our Knowledge Portal enables people to search for and access a wide range of research from a number of sources.