Charity Futures to set up voluntary sector research centre at Oxford college

The Institute of Charity will carry out high-level academic research on charities in a purpose-built home in the city centre

Artist's impression of the proposed building
Artist's impression of the proposed building

A new centre to provide high-level research on the voluntary sector is being set up at the University of Oxford.

The think tank Charity Futures is working with the university’s New College to establish the centre, which will be called the Institute of Charity.

New College said in a statement today that the institute would be tasked with providing high-level academic research on charities, digitising charity records to improve future research and promote the research of charity within universities more generally.

The institute will be based in a purpose-built home on a newly developed part of the college’s site in Oxford city centre.

It is expected that the institute will open in 2022, the college said, and will operate as an independent body, with former Acevo chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb as acting director.

Miles Young, warden of New College, told Third Sector that the college hoped to generate £30m in endowment funds for the institute, which he predicted would generate £1.2m a year.

This £1.2m would cover the cost of administration, staff and research fellowships, Young said.

He said areas of focus would include how charities worked, how the modern charity sector first appeared and how charities were likely to operate in the future.

Young said in a statement: "Charity’s important role in our society is often undervalued, and I believe that one cause of this is that it is surprisingly little studied in universities.

"What particularly attracts us is the opportunity to apply interdisciplinary scholarship to the subject, and in a way that reinforces our own and Oxford’s expertise in subjects as diverse as history and philosophy, politics and economics, law and government."

Bubb, who is also director of Charity Futures and will continue in this role, said: "When there are so many divisions in society, civil society is needed more than ever. And when charities themselves face challenges, research and study of charity is particularly timely.

"Charity Futures was established to look at the long-term future health of the charitable sector in the UK. We were clear from the start that finding a home at a truly excellent academic institution was essential if the mission of providing original and rigorous research was to be met."

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