Dr Diarmuid McDonnell

Dr Diarmuid McDonnell

Third Sector Research Centre
Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Diarmuid is a social scientist with experience in academia, the public and voluntary sectors, and consultancy work. He is currently researching post-war organisational change in the UK voluntary sector.

Diarmuid is a former Social Impact Strategy Doctoral Fellow at the School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania, and winner, with Professor Alasdair Rutherford, of the Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize for best paper at the Voluntary Sector Studies Network conference (2017, 2018).


  • PhD in Sociology & Social Policy, University of Stirling, 2017
  • MSc in Applied Social Research (Distinction), University of Stirling, 2013
  • BBus in Information Systems (1st class hons), Cork Institute of Technology, 2010


Diarmuid joined the University of Birmingham in 2017 as a Research Fellow within the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC). He is currently working on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘The Spirit of Social Action: change and continuity in the voluntary sector, 1945 to the present day,’ which questions how a wide range of voluntary organisations adapted (or didn’t adapt) to changes in social policy and funding streams over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


Research interests

Diarmuid’s research explores the determinants of charity misconduct, accountability and vulnerability, using linked administrative data derived from charity regulators internationally. He has methodological interests in the use of administrative data for social science research, data science, and policy evaluation methods.

Diarmuid is currently investigating long-run change in the UK voluntary sector: using large-scale administrative data on charities, he is tracking the shifting distribution in the organisational and resource base of the sector.

Current projects

The Spirit of Social Action: change and continuity in the voluntary sector, 1945 to the present day (Research Fellow)

Mission Accomplished? A Cross National Examination of Charity Dissolution (Principle Investigator)


McDonnell, D., & Rutherford, A. C. (2018), ‘Promoting Charity Accountability: Understanding Disclosure of Serious Incidents’, Accounting Forum, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.accfor.2018.05.003.

McDonnell, D., & Rutherford, A. C. (2018), ‘The Determinants of Charity Misconduct’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47: 107-125.

McDonnell, D. (2017), ‘Improving Charity Accountability: Lessons From the Scottish Experience’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 46: 725-746.

McDonnell, D. (2011). Co-operative Study and E-Learning: Lessons from Nova Scotia. Journal of Co-operative Studies, 44: 97-103. 

View all publications in research portal