The University of Birmingham is celebrating after securing £9 million to jointly lead a new Third Sector Research Centre dedicated to analysing the impact of the sector's activities.

The world-class centre, which will be lead by the University’s Professor Pete Alcock, in partnership with Professor John Mohan at the University of Southampton, will receive the cash injection over five years. Its purpose is to conduct research and analysis to strengthen the evidence base for the entire third sector, including charities, social enterprises and small community organisations.  It will work to deliver research into the effectiveness and impact of third sector organisations – those that fall between the public and private sectors.

The Centre will focus on key issues such as the sector’s scale, dynamics and effectiveness. Professor Pete Alcock said: “This is an exciting new opportunity to provide an extensive and robust research resource for the Third Sector and to work closely with both policy makers and practitioners in building capacity and engagement. We are pleased to have been chosen to run the Centre and are looking forward commencing work in September.”

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Office of the Third Sector (OTS) and The Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Centre is another example of the government's ongoing commitment to support the vital role of third sector organisations.

Phil Hope, Minister of the Third Sector, added: “This is a very exciting development.  This will be a Centre for the whole sector, with academics working alongside charities, social enterprises and small community associations to develop the evidence base on the sector and the impact it has on people’s lives.”


For further media information contact the University of Birmingham Press Office on 0121 414 6029.

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Notes to Editors

1) The third sector is a diverse, active and passionate sector. Organisations in the sector share common characteristics:

a. non-governmental

b. value-driven

c. principally reinvest any financial surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives.

2) Supporting the work of the Third Sector Research Centre will be two capacity building clusters (CBCs), based at the University of Middlesex and the University of Lincoln, with the CBC in Middlesex focusing specifically on social enterprises. The CBCs will provide both the next generation of high quality researchers and be a resource for the sector.  The clusters will provide activities such as studentships, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Third Sector placements and an innovative voucher scheme designed to allow Third Sector organisations to “buy in” academic expertise.

3) Funding for the new Centre is provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (£5m), Office of the Third Sector (£5m) and The Barrow Cadbury Trust (£250k).

4) The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million.  At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes. More at

5) In recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy, the Prime Minister created the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) in May 2006 to drive forward the Government's role in supporting a thriving third sector, and join up sector-related work across government. More at

6) The Barrow Cadbury Trust is an independent, charitable foundation committed to funding and encouraging the promotion of social justice. Established in 1920, The Barrow Cadbury Trust aims to close the gaps in current policy and practice by supporting work in local communities and acting as a bridge to national and international policymakers.