Quantitative Research

Introduction from John Mohan

John Mohan


Our quantitative work helps to explain the distribution of third sector organisations, analyse their contribution to society and the economy and understand their dynamics.This research stream is designed to improve our understanding of the third sector through a large-scale programme of quantitative work.

We are interested in data not just on third sector organisations and their resources, but also on both financial inputs to the sector (funding flows from various sources) and human inputs (e.g. the paid workforce and volunteers).

Current work

We are working to establish robust quantitative databases on organisations and resources in the third sector. We are conducting high level analyses of these and other datasets so that policy makers and practitioners have a better understanding of trends in the sector and a better basis to predict future developments (TSRC Working Paper 62 gives an overview).

Our very substantial panel dataset on registered charities was used by Peter Backus and David Clifford to measure growth and change in the charity sector, looking at changes in the concentration of resources (see Working Paper 38 and Working Paper 39).

Using data from the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO), we have analysed the exposure of third sector organisations to public funding, as well as the distribution of local voluntary organisations, and have been looking at how these relate to area deprivation and type of organisation (see Working Paper 45 and Working Paper 65)

Our work on volunteering and participation uses the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) to assess the extent to which individuals move in and out of volunteering “states”, and attempts to quantify the relative contribution being made by different groups of the population (see Working Paper 73 'The idea of a civic core').

Other research

Quantitative analysis feeds into research throughout the Centre. Some examples of quantitative research in other streams include:

  • Mapping the environmental third sector in England
  • Workforce and workplace research
  • Criminal justice research looking at the role of third sector organisations in the resettlement of offenders
  • Research into the scale and distribution of social enterprise
  • Work on the marketisation of charities
  • Work on measuring impact, including social return on investment

Next steps

Work is continuing on:

  • the development of our large-scale database of third sector organisations, in conjunction with NCVO;
  • survey datasets on volunteering, including work on longitudinal analysis;
  • organisations operating at the neighbourhood scale

In addition, we will work on the panel of registered charities and other third sector organisations. This includes longitudinal work on the growth and distribution of third sector resources over time. 

Quantitative analysis publications

Working paper 119: Fifty at fifty: long term patterns of participation and volunteering among the 1958 NCDS Cohort at age 50, Katherine Brookfield, Jane Parry and Vicki Bolton (PDF, February 2014)

Briefing paper 113: Patterns of social capital, voluntary activity and area deprivation in England, Andrew McCulloch, John Mohan, and Peter Smith (PDF, November 2013)

Briefing paper 102: What factors predict volunteering among youths in the UK? Matthew Bennett and Meenakshi Parameshwaran (PDF, August 2013)

Working paper 95: What the public think of the Big Society, Dr Rose Lindsey and Dr Sarah Bulloch (PDF, April 2013)

Working paper 93: Collecting and classifying data from charity accounts for England and Wales, David Kane, Jenny Clark (NCVO), David Clifford, John Mohan (TSRC), Joy Dobbs, Pete Bass (NCVO Associates) (PDF, Feb 2013)

Working paper 80: The regional distribution of employees in the third sector in England: estimates from the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO), Frida Geyne-Rajme and John Mohan (PDF, June 2012)

Working paper 73: The idea of a ‘civic core’: what are the overlaps between charitable giving, volunteering, and civic participation in England and Wales? Professor John Mohan and Dr Sarah L. Bulloch (PDF, February 2012). 

Working paper 65: Voluntary sector organisations working at the neighbourhood level in England: patterns by local area deprivation, Dr David Clifford (PDF, August 2011)

Working paper 62: Mapping the Big Society: perspectives from the Third Sector Research Centre, Professor John Mohan (PDF, August 2011)

Working paper 45: How dependent is the third sector on public funding? David Clifford, Frida Geyne Rajme, and John Mohan (PDF, Oct 2010)

Working paper 38: Are big charities becoming increasingly dominant? David Clifford and Peter Backus (PDF, June 2010)

Working paper 6: Individual voluntary participation in the UK, Dr. Laura Staetsky (PDF, May 2011)

Research contacts