The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Third Sector Research Centre have secured funding worth almost £400,000 for a project to map the voluntary sector’s finances over a 10-year period.
The two organisations have today announced that they have been given funding totalling £386,000 over the next three years from the Economic and Social Research Council to collect data from a sample of 10,000 charities in England and Wales, which will help them to estimate the resources of all charities and indicate how financially healthy charities are.
The organisations said that the central aim of the scheme was to increase access to data by the voluntary sector and help organisations build their ability to analyse and use data themselves.
The funding will be used partly to continue the NCVO’s UK Civil Society Almanac, which was first published in 2006/07, for the next three years, providing a decade of data.
It will also be used to improve data on organisations such as community interest companies and to fund analysis of the voluntary sector through emerging data sources, including open data released by grant-makers.
The two organisations will run a series of events for voluntary organisations demonstrating how the data could be used.
Nick Ockenden, head of research at the NCVO, said the information collected by the project would help to paint an accurate picture of the voluntary sector and help charities demonstrate the difference they make to society.
"Being able to access and use this data will help charities to become more effective and make an even bigger difference in the longer term," he said.
John Mohan, director of the TSRC, said the two organisations had collaborated for several years to develop the evidence base on the third sector.
"These projects will provide a firm foundation for the future development and enhancement of that evidence base," he said. "They will also enable important pilot work on emerging data sources on public sector procurement and grant-making."
The TSRC last year said that it would have to cut the number of staff from 20 to five and scale back its planned work after the ESRC, which had given it £5m in 2008, turned down a request for further financial support.