Useful links




Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy (CGAP)

  • The ESRC Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy is the first academic centre in the UK dedicated to research on charitable giving and philanthropy. Three main research strands focus on individual and business giving, social redistribution and charitable activity, and the institutions of giving. CGAP is a consortium including the Universities of Strathclyde, Southampton and Kent, University of Edinburgh Business School, Cass Business School and NCVO.

Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO)

  • CMPO is a leading research centre, combining expertise in economics, geography and law. Our objective is to study the intersection between the public and private sectors of the economy, and in particular to understand the right way to organise and deliver public services. The Centre aims to develop research, contribute to the public debate and inform policy-making.

    The Centre was established in 1998 with two large grants from The Leverhulme Trust. In 2004 we were awarded ESRC Research Centre status, and CMPO started receiving its core funding from the ESRC. CMPO started its second five years as an ESRC Research Centre in October 2009.

Centre for Voluntary Action Studies, University of Ulster

  • The Centre for Voluntary Action Studies is a research programme led by Dr Nick Acheson housed within the University of Ulster Social and Policy Research Institute. Its main research themes cover VCS-state relations, civil society, diversity and social cohesion, and local community action and it is able to draw on the wider research interests of the SPRI research group, particular through politics, social policy and Canadian studies all of which can be explored on the SPRI website.

Centre for Voluntary Sector Research, Sheffield Hallam University 

  • The Centre for Voluntary Sector Research (CVSR) at Sheffield Hallam University is an inter-faculty network of 12 academics and researchers with specific research interests concerning the third sector, voluntary sector, and charities in particular.  The website gives contact details for all members of CVSR and many published research reports are available online – particularly on areas such as charity regulation, infrastructure support, funding, governance and impact.

European Network for Housing Research (ENHR)

  • The European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) was established in 1988 to provide an organizational platform for institutions and individuals in (and outside) Europe, who are actively engaged in housing research. It now has about 1000 individual and nearly 100 institutional members representing almost every country in Europe.

European Research Network (EMES)

  • EMES is a research network of established university research centres and individual researchers whose goal has been so far to gradually build up a European corpus of theoretical and empirical knowledge, pluralistic in disciplines and methodologies, around "SE" concepts: social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, social economy and solidarity economy.

The European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP)

  • The European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP) has been founded in January 2008 by collaborating philanthropy researchers in Europe, in order to advance, coordinate and promote excellence in philanthropic research in Europe. Currently more than 100 researchers in twenty one European countries have joined ERNOP. ERNOP is an institutional member of the ISTR and collaborates with other European Philanthropy networks, such as EMES, ICFO and the EVPA.

The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR)

  • The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) is an independent charitable research institute, based at Birkbeck, University of London. Our main interest is voluntary action – activities, services, community development or campaigns that aim to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged individuals, groups and communities. Our main focus is using action research to understand and strengthen voluntary and community sector organisation and management.

International Society of Third Sector Research (ISTR)

  • Founded in 1992, the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) is a major international association promoting research and education in the fields of civil society, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector. ISTR is an organization committed to building a global community of scholars and interested others dedicated to the creation, discussion, and advancement of knowledge pertaining to the third sector and its impact on human and planetary well-being and development internationally. As an organization, ISTR is recognized and respected for its global vision, its commitment to excellence, its collaborative approach, and the values of diversity and pluralism with which it pursues its mission.

Public Policy Network, University of Edinburgh

  • The University of Edinburgh's Public Policy Network exists as a resource for individuals and organisations developing, commissioning, conducting and debating policy-relevant research. It also serves as a reference point for those looking for an expert opinion on particular issues, and includes an active working group dedicated to third sector research.

Third Sector Development Unit, University of Teesside

  • Third Sector Development Unit at the University of Teesside undertakes applied research, project evaluation and policy analysis to Third Sector organisations and with local, regional and national government bodies which work with the Third Sector. The unit also has strong international links with social enterprise researchers in Japan, Europe, Canada and the United States.

Voluntary Action History Society (VAHS)  

  • VAHS aims to advance the historical understanding and analysis of voluntary action. Founded in 1991, VAHS is a membership network of academics, research students and practitioners. VAHS is based in the UK but has members across the world and works closely with international colleagues. It is run by a committee of volunteers who organise a monthly seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in London, a biennial research conference, a New Researchers workshop programme and other events.

    Contact for more information.

Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN)

  • VSSN functions to promote the advancement of knowledge about, and understanding of, organisations between the market and the state by providing a virtual and actual meeting point for all scholars and researchers with an analytic interest in the voluntary and community sector, third sector or non-profit sector. VSSN is multidisciplinary, seeking to engage economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists, policy analysts and others.

Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN)

  • VSSN functions to promote the advancement of knowledge about, and understanding of, organisations between the market and the state by providing a virtual and actual meeting point for all scholars and researchers with an analytic interest in the voluntary and community sector, third sector or non-profit sector. VSSN is multidisciplinary, seeking to engage economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists, policy analysts and others.

    VSSN's new journal, Voluntary Sector Review is available here.


The Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC)

  • ARVAC (The Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector) was established in 1978. It is a membership organisation and acts as a resource for people interested in research in or on community organisations. We believe that voluntary and community organisations play a vital role in creating and sustaining healthy communities, and that research plays an essential role in increasing the effectiveness of those organisations involved in voluntary and community action. We produce a quarterly Bulletin and maintain a database of community research. We run seminars and conferences and produce occasional publications.

Clore Social Leadership Programme

  • The Clore Social Leadership Programme aims to identify, connect and develop aspiring leaders in the social sector who are working for the benefit of individuals and communities across the UK. Each Fellow benefits from a personalised programme and challenging opportunities for development.

    As part of the Programme, each Clore Social Fellow is required to undertake a piece of practice-based research. The purpose of the research is to help develop Fellows' skills as critical users of research, as well as to help develop the evidence base for the sector as a whole. Fellows’ research published to date covers a wide-range of subjects including Penelope Gibbs’ recent report on the relationship between Chairs and CEOs and Joe Ludlow’s report, Impact Networks looking at how large charities can help smaller ones.

Directory of Social Change (DSC)

  • Directory of Social Change carries out a rolling programme of research into over 8,000 funders of voluntary sector activity, as well as conducting regular opinion polls on sector issues and more in depth reports on issues connected to its policy and campaign objectives.

Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR)

  • IVR is a specialist research agency and consultancy on volunteering. Founded in 1997, IVR is an initiative of Volunteering England that aims to develop knowledge and understanding of volunteering in a way that is relevant to practitioners and policy makers.

    The IVR Evidence Bank for volunteering research is a free searchable database containing all IVR publications produced since 1997 and articles from the Voluntary Action Journal.

NCVO Policy and Research

  • The policy and research team undertake and publish a wide ranging original research programme that aims to support policy and practice in the sector. Agenda-setting work programmes such as the Civil Society Almanac and UK Giving give the big picture of how the sector is changing, whilst in-depth programmes such as Pathways through Participation aim to understand why and how the sector is changing. NCVO works with universities, funders and infrastructure organisations to share best practice and build an accessible evidence base.

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC)

  • NPC occupies a unique position at the nexus between charities and funders, helping them achieve the greatest impact. This understanding of both sides of the funding equation is reflected in the variety of skills and knowledge of our people, and their backgrounds in charities and the public and private sector. At NPC, we bring shared values and different skills to both charities and funders. By helping them use their resources more effectively, by inspiring through new thinking and by prioritising impact, we are transforming the sector.

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA)

  • NICVA's research aim and strategy is to contribute to and develop knowledge about the voluntary and community sector for the benefit of researchers, policy makers and organisations interested in the sector. The work of the research team can be broken down into 4 main themes: resources, people, performance and influence.

Non-Governmental Public Action Research Programme, LSE

  • The Non-Governmental Public Action Research Programme is an ESRC initiative, directed from Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics and Political Science, which aims to better understand the impact of public action by non-govermental actors. The programme has funded a wide range of researchers working in the UK and internationally who are based in universities, think-tanks, civil society organisations, projects and networks around the world.

Northern Rock Foundation

  • Northern Rock Foundation’s Third Sector Trends Study looks at the scale, dynamics and needs of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in North East England and Cumbria.


Serco Institute

  • The Serco Institute is a think tank funded by the international services company Serco Group plc which undertakes original research into the use of competition, contracting and other innovative approaches to the delivery of public services. The Institute website offers a large resource centre with links to a range of academic, public policy and industry publications, including pages on third sector involvement in the UK public services market and competitive neutrality in bidding for contracts.

Shared Intelligence (Si) 

  • SI is a multidisciplinary research consultancy specialising in public policy development, local government improvement and modernisation, economic development, and urban and rural regeneration. It evaluates policies, programmes and projects, assessing their impact, and testing their sustainability, and uses the learning from these to help organisations manage change and support improvement in the delivery of services.