Informing policy

Building capabilities in the voluntary sector

September 2014

The previous decade saw major injections of capacity building funding from both government and the Big Lottery Fund aimed at building the strength and sustainability of voluntary sector infrastructure. Since the start of the current decade the Big Lottery Fund has turned the focus of its voluntary sector development attention to front line voluntary organisations (FLOs) themselves. Its Building Capabilities and Impact and Legacy (Building Capabilities) initiative has been exploring how they can best be encouraged and empowered to build their skills, knowledge and confidence (capabilities) as they seek to achieve outcomes for their beneficiaries more effectively and sustainably into the future.

In order to inform the future development of this approach, the Big Lottery Fund commissioned TSRC to conduct a formative scoping study to review existing evidence to address what works in building FLOs and partnerships' capabilities and what the requirements are for a marketised approach for capability building. Research Report (and Briefing Paper) 125 discusses the main findings of the study, while working papers 126 and 127 focus, respectively, on partnerships and the capability building.

Research report 125 (PDF)  |  Briefing Paper 125 (PDF)
Working Paper 126 (PDF)   |  Working Paper 127 (PDF)

Commissioning across government

Project for National Audit Office 

August 2012

This report sets out the results of an in-depth review in the first half of 2010 of the evidence in the academic, policy and government literature on current approaches to the commissioning of services to establish which ‘models’ were currently in use, the evidence (up to that time) on what their effects had been, and what changes to commissioning models were in the pipeline or were being considered for the future by government departments. The report was commissioned by the National Audit Office (NAO) to support its work in investigating the value for money of government bodies, programmes and services.

Research report (pdf, 2.88MB) | Summary report (pdf, 441KB)

Researchers: Tony Bovaird, Helen Dickinson and Kerry Allen

The role of the third sector in delivering social care

May 2012

Researchers at TSRC in Birmingham, in conjunction with colleagues in the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC), undertook a review for the NIHR School for Social Care Research, to examine the role of the third sector in delivering social care.

Third sector providers have been important in delivering social care for some time, but this role is changing in the context of personalisation and constrained financial resources. Despite this, our review highlights a lack of robust research in this area. There is a need to explore the different roles that third sector organisations play in relation to social care – both in delivering services and campaigning. Comparative research is needed to identify whether and how the third sector is distinctive.

The review calls for a better mix of research methods, such as the use of large-scale quantitative data to identify the scale and spread of third sector organisations involved in social care.

The report can be found here

Research contact: Pete Alcock

Connected Communities Research

December 2011

Connected Communities is a cross-Council Programme being led by the AHRC in partnership with a range of research councils and external partners. The Programme aims to mobilise the potential for increasingly inter-connected communities by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities. Two research projects have been carried out for Connected Communities by TSRC researcher James Rees in partnership with researchers from De Montford University and University of Manchester.


Towards co-production in research with communities

Illuminating the Evolution of Community Participation

Research contact: James Rees

Single point of access to third sector services: the Conwy Collaborative approach

April 2011

TSRC has recently been involved in researching a collaborative arrangement designed to help improve and strengthen the planning and commissioning of services from the third sector to support health and social care needs.

Read more

Research contact: Helen Dickinson