Northern Rock to launch charity trends research

The Northern Rock Foundation is to fund a research project into the third sector in north-east England and Cumbria in a bid to identify national trends in the voluntary sector.

The £500,000 study, Third Sector Trends, will look at the finances, workforce, governance and activities of charities, social enterprises and small community groups over three years.

“Our programme will provide better data about voluntary and community organisations in our area,” said Fiona Ellis, director of the foundation. “But we will also be a pathfinder, playing a leading role in efforts to develop more effective research on the sector nationally.”

Karl Wilding, head of research at the NCVO, said the impact of the survey would be felt across the UK. “This type of evidence-building is long overdue,” he said.

The NCVO will launch its own survey of the sector’s confidence and expectations in February.

The first Charity Prospects Survey will canvas trustees and chief executives on their expectations for the future in areas including economic issues and changes in staffing and volunteering levels. The aim is to assess levels of confidence within the sector and track fluctuations against external indicators such as policy changes and GDP.

Wilding said: “This survey will increase the intelligence base of the sector and give leaders an advantage they haven't had before.”

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