Third Sector Research Centre 
2008-2013 Report

Understanding the UK third sector (cover) 

Following on from our Mid Term Report in 2011, the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) has produced a Final Report, Understanding the Third Sector, covering the five years of our research activity from 2008 to 2013, and including a summary of the activities undertaken in the Bridge Funding period from September 2013 to March 2014.

The report is intended to provide an outline of our major activities undertaken in the course of our research programme. We are grateful to our core funders, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Office for Civil Society (OCS) and the Barrow Cadbury Trust (BCT), not only for the substantial financial contribution they have made to our work, but also for their very practical encouragement and support. With their backing, we have made significant progress in developing a robust and independent research resource for the third sector in the UK, made substantial and unprecedented contributions to the evidence base which are highly valued by other researchers and practitioners, and pursued a vigorous and innovative programme of knowledge exchange designed to maximise the wider public impact of our work.

The Report provides a brief and accessible summary of our activities and findings. We have also published a wide range of outputs explaining our work in more depth, including in particular the TSRC Working Papers and the academic journal articles listed in the Report. We hope that people interested to find out more about our work will be able to follow this up through these more detailed publications, and we will maintain access to all our Working Papers and other TSRC publications on our website.

This Report only includes the research work covered under our core funding. In addition to this we have undertaken a significant number of other research projects for a range of other funders including policy evaluations, collaborative data development and other projects funded by ESRC or other independent research foundations. These have all been reported separately to funders and also published in academic papers. Where these reports are in the public domain we have also included information about them, and access to them, on our website. Some of these projects are ongoing; and in the future we anticipate developing further research activities for other funders and will continue to publicise this work through our website.

The Final Report also contains summaries of our extensive knowledge exchange and impact activities through which we have worked with voluntary organisations large and small to share our findings and to promote the co-production of knowledge. Particular highlights include the establishment of the Third Sector Knowledge Portal, which has been used by many thousands of sector based researchers, and the publication of our Futures Dialogue on the prospects for the sector, which we know was highly valued as means through which policy makers and practitioners could reflect on the implications of our findings for the future development of the sector.

There are short summaries too of the activities of the three Capacity Building Clusters associated with TSRC, and full reports of their activities are provided separately on their university websites. There are listings of TSRC staff, and also of our many Honorary and Associate Research Fellows. We have been pleased to work with such a wide range of keen and committed Fellows and believe that their contributions have enhanced significantly the work undertaken in the Centre.

Overall, as the Report explains, TSRC has made significant contributions to third sector research beyond the substantial research programmes we have conducted. We have significantly improved the quality of the evidence base on the sector and have sought to work collaboratively with a range of stakeholders. The impact of our work has been widely acknowledged by third sector organisations themselves as well as by government departments and charitable foundations. We hope, therefore, that this Final Report will be a useful, and accessible, guide to our activities over the last five years; and that it will also encourage readers to explore our work in more detail in our Working Papers and other publications. The work of the Centre will now be consolidated at the University of Birmingham, and we will provide information about future activities on our website.


See also: Working PapersJournal Articles, TSRC Reports and Other Publications.