Knowledge and Data Sharing

Split off from original Information management page, which covers data protection, staff handbooks etc.

Information Resources

Note: Freedom of Information (England and Wales, also in Scotland with some differences) is a legal right to request access to all types of “recorded” information held by public bodies. Organisations providing public services might be caught in that the contracting body could make additional requirements to allow them to meet FoI requests, but otherwise unlikely. See Lobbying pages for FoI links.

Education and Training for Information Work in the Voluntary Sector is a research report produced by Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett) early 1999. An executive summary may still be somewhere on their website.

Aslib Journal of Information Management.

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. 7 Ridgmount St, London, WC1E 7AE, phone 020 7255 0500, email: Also see their Information Literacy group?

Knowledge Management

Not to be confused with information management, but can be closely connected. Some see it as part of de-skilling and job reductions: extracting and exploiting the knowledge held by individuals about work in the round. But, to quote from elsewhere on VR: “How good is an office manual if it doesnt include some element of extracting and collating knowledge otherwise locked up in an individual?”

So what is it? There are varying views about what KM involves – see quotes below. Distinctions are made between Explicit knowledge (recorded) and Tacit knowledge (personal know-how); a defined body of information as distinct from a person’s state of being in respect to that body. Data, information, knowledge, understanding and wisdom are all separate terms with different meanings, although writers (and organisations) often muddy these.

There is very little material on the web explicitly aimed at the voluntary sector. We would be delighted to hear of any.

It is probably that the voluntary sector differs more in what KM is applied to, rather than how. So the following links (many quite old but should still work), could be useful.

FreePint, the newsletter for information professionals, had an article on Knowledge management for development: an international organisation’s perspective, November 2005.

Fostering the Collaborative Creation of Knowledge: A White Paper from IBM Research gives some background on managing information in a holistic way (or as they say, an ecological view). We can’t find the paper on the site any longer!

But can knowledge be managed, as individuals have different ‘knowledge bases’? See The Nonsense of ‘Knowledge Management’.

Some quotes

Peter Honey quoting Prof Susan Greenfield (name dropper!)

‘information is just facts which on their own are not at all interesting. Knowledge occurs when disparate facts are linked and turned into ideas.’ (Training Journal, June 2000)

From VNU’s Knowledge Management White Paper:

“What managing knowledge as a resource means in practice actually spans a continuum from generating efficiency to fostering innovation.”

Simon Kent, of Knowledge Management Software in Computer Weekly (June 01):

“Knowledge …. is information’s evolutionary descendant, transcending primitive emphases on hardware, bandwidth and Java compatability with something much more powerful and sophisticated: individual and collective experience that can be leveraged to benefit virtually any activity.”

From US government’s KM web site:

“Essentially, knowledge management is at the intersection of culture, philosophy, and technology connecting people, communities and ideas for action.”

Knowledge Praxis quotes from Karl-Erik Sveiby’s posting to the Knowledge Management Forum, identifying two “tracks” of knowledge management:

  • Management of Information. To researchers in this track, according to Sveiby, “. knowledge = Objects that can be identified and handled in information systems.” {A mechanistic or object approach}
  • Management of People. For researchers and practitioners in this field, knowledge consists of “. processes, a complex set of dynamic skills, know-how, etc., that is constantly changing.” {A cultural or process approach}
  • {to which they add a Systematic approach, which combines and adds to the other two}

from Larry Prusak, director of IBM Institute for Knowledge Management, as interviewed for ebusinessforum, Oct 00:

Key steps in instituting a knowledge-management programme: “A little strategy goes a long way. There are 4 simple steps: What knowledge do you want to work with? Where is it? What do you want to do to it? and to what end: what would you gain if you did this?” …. “You could do it in a day or two.”

“Heirarchy is a distortion of knowledge …(it) is a 19th century concept.”

Designing a knowledge-management system: “You’re better off enacting one than designing one. Letting the people who work in these organisations enact it, and give them loose advice.”

from Michael Schrage, writing in Fortune magazine:

“an objective review would confirm that most firms grossly overinvest in technologies that let people see what’s going on and dramatically underinvest in delegation and true empowerment…….knowledge confirms the absence of meaningful power.”

In conclusion after discussing how efficient technology networks can lead to poor data due to ‘selfish’ practice by staff, managers or customers: “business reality dictates that organizations that commit to strategic networking must invest as much effort in designing the incentives for honest disclosure as they do in designing the technical infrastructure itself.”

Open data and data sharing

See Sector Development, Statistics

  • New Philanthropy Capital has been working on data sharing across sub-sectors (not just about funding).
  • The Global Value Exchange, previously WikiVOIS, is an open source database for individuals and organisations who are trying to account for and measure the social or environmental value that their activities create,
  •  Data Unity is an open source web tool which lets you explore and visualise data, and then share discoveries with others.
  • Digital Impact (was Markets for Good) “is an effort by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the progressive financial firm Liquidnet to improve the system for generating, sharing, and acting upon data and information in the social sector”.



Metadata, categorisation, taxonomy, ontology, classification, filing labels…. A boring but necessary basis to being able to manage data and bring it together to create meaningful information. There appears to be a lack of any sector-wide effort to agree (electronic) standards. VolResource is concerned that this could put voluntary groups at a disadvantage in the future when coming up against public sector data standards which are getting increasingly sophisticated, or other funder monitoring requirements.

See Wikipedia for a definition and discussion of Taxonomy.

The data we have in mind is anything to do with keeping tabs on sector activity, whether that is case work, service delivery or member processes. Its use will go well beyond IT, so this subject should not be seen as just a technical issue.

Viewing the Sector

The most obvious need for some degree of standardisation is in voluntary sector research.

  • Johns Hopkins University Centre for Civil Society Studies Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project has developed, starting out from the existing International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), an International Classification of Nonprofit Organizations (ICNPO) – check the Publications page. Evolved into the Global Civil Society Index. It has been pointed out that “for all its faults, this system does have the virtue of simplicity. Other more complex (including multi dimensional) systems, {[include} those developed and used in the UK have other advantages of course”.
  • The Canadian sector study, Canadian Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector in Comparative Perspective (pdf format 348kb published March 2005, may still be available via Sector Source), has a modified version of ICNPO at pages 38 to 43.

Online directories and electronic databases of voluntary organisations is perhaps the usage that comes to mind from the term ‘metadata’.

Various local, regional and national sector umbrella bodies have of necessity worked on classification for their web based directories. Here’s some efforts we know about:

  • Northern Ireland’s Community NI site has asked the sector to feed into the development of the themes (activity/topics) navigation facility (there is also a geographical one). See bottom section of the left hand navigation area.

Scotland’s CVS network established a Data Management Consortium – but only known web link has gone. There was also a ShareIT Community Metadata Schema, in Manchester, but we believe funding cuts have hit what little activity there was.

Wales Council for Voluntary Action has/had a classification system with “46 categories which are a mixture of beneficiary types, activities and functions, and any one organisation can be coded in as many categories as seems appropriate”. (Unlike ICNPO which insists on just one box being ticked). The categories are grouped into 23 forums, the basis of the representative seats at the Voluntary Sector Partnership Council with the Welsh Assembly.

Frontline operations also have a need for relevant classification systems, for monitoring activity (reporting to funders, benchmarking against others), making information available online categorised for different service user needs etc.

  • 211 Taxonomy focuses on the telephone information line for human services operating in 31 states in the US, Puerto Rico and Canada. This includes nonprofit and capacity-building categories. Subscription to gain full access to the site appears to cost but there is a Volunteer Opportunities example, in pdf format, 217kb.


The following have been raised in various discussions on taxonomy issues.

  • Can, or should, library resources be classified in the same way as a web site?
  • Is it possible to create compatibility across local, regional or national approaches? And also work with public sector classifications?

Public sector

The public sector has been working on its electronic classification standards for some time. The Integrated Public Sector Vocabulary brings together three existing labelling mechanisms for electronic information: the Government Category List (GCL), Local Government Category List (LGCL) and the seamlessUK taxonomy. At 2013, see ESD Standards section. Also see other taxonomies (controlled lists or standards) maintained by ESD.

Thoughts on Working in the Voluntary Sector

This is addressed to those contemplating taking the plunge into paid employment in the voluntary sector. Those of you already working in charities, community organisations, campaigning groups etc. need read no further. Otherwise…..


  • Working for a Charity, NCVO, Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL, phone 020 7520 2512 / 2493, email: A training body for people wishing to transfer their skills to the voluntary sector.

Our thoughts

The first thing to point out is the massive diversity here. Large household name charities have employees in the thousands, while a self-help group may just have a part-time admin worker, with all the possibilities in between. Terms and conditions can range from close to the average for that type of job (perhaps even above in terms of maternity leave, pensions or total leave entitlement) to the very minimum allowed (and if you are unlucky, below). Many organisations expect their staff to be committed to the cause to the extent of being self-exploiting – the sector incurs an above average number of industrial tribunal cases which may well be due to employees burning out or no longer being willing to do this. On the other hand, job satisfaction can be massive and in smaller organisations learning opportunities many and frequent.

Changing (or getting) a job normally requires careful thought if it is to be successful – changing to the voluntary sector even more so. Be clear why you want to make the move, what terms and conditions you would be happy with, how much commitment you are prepared to give. The latter is usually quite obvious at interview, but there will be friction if you accept a job which takes too much out of you. It can be tricky finding out in advance what the work ethos of an organisation is, and senior staff can live in a different world from everybody else, but be suspicious if you aren’t given an opportunity to look round at some point in the recruitment process.

Trade Unions are even less in evidence in the sector than the commercial world. There is also often not an obvious career structure – to progress you may need to move organisations fairly frequently, and for many this will mean across to the public sector (local authority, government quangos and the like) and back. In smaller organisations, moving on every 3 to 4 years is pretty normal.

Particular parts of the sector have their own characteristics. For instance, conservation organisations often expect you to have experience as a volunteer in a similar organisation before you get your first paid job, community groups are likely to mark you down for being too nicely dressed, and campaigning groups will fairly obviously prefer it if you can show an existing interest in the subject they campaign on. Some of this is common sense, but not all. Get an idea of the style of an organisation from its reports, web site, media coverage, contacts, whatever.

Don’t expect a job in the voluntary sector to be less demanding than one in the commercial world, even if it pays less. There are some jobs where this holds true, but pressures are increasing to do more for less, here as elsewhere. The better employers recognise the effort being put in, and reward it as best they can – maybe more flexibility in working hours or tolerance of odd habits and enthusiasms, chances to get involved in ‘fun’ events – but very rarely extra pay. ‘Professionalism’ is increasing, which sometimes just means appointing the person with the flashiest qualifications, but more positively is about recognising that employees are there to develop their professional skills as well as graft hard.

Other thoughts

Prospects, the graduate career advice web site, has some pages on what is involved in various fields. Look under Explore Types of Job, and then for example: Social and Pastoral Care – Community Work for advice worker, community worker, youth worker, etc.

Employing Staff


For many organisations recruiting their first paid worker after relying on volunteer effort, the positive buzz is undermined by not just having to come to terms with new management issues but also all the regulations and issues around employing staff. Some voluntary organisations think these only apply to commercial bodies and ignore, others try to apply the approach of large corporations (where trustees might work) resulting in overkill.

There are get outs on some regulations for smaller concerns, but you should always check (and also consider whether in best practice terms or because of the number of volunteers you should respect them anyway).

Workforce resources on NCVO website.

Trades Unions, Associations

Some parts of the sector are heavily unionised, while elsewhere they don’t seem to have heard of them. Employers can’t use them as information sources directly, but staff who are members can often get some useful general briefings for free. Unions with dedicated voluntary sector branches include:

  • Unison Probably the largest presence in the sector (around 50,000 members quoted early 2006). Contact National Officer for Voluntary Sector (Mike Short), 1 Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9AJ, phone 0845 355 0845, email: There is also a Voluntary Organisations Branch based at Suite 103/4, 134-146 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AR, phone 020 7729 4001/5001.
  • Unite has a specialist section for community, play, youth and not-for profit workers in the UK.
  • Association of Community Workers Info about various aspects of community work. Stephenson Buildings, Elswick Rd, Newcastle, NE4 6SQ, phone 0191 272 4341 (these contact details may be out of date).
  • Community union includes branches covering specific voluntary sector areas/activities, and incorporates British Union of Social Work and National League of the Blind & Disabled (recognised in sheltered workshops). The Community Union Combined Branches in the North of England (Yorkshire & Humberside, Manchester and Lancashire) specifically organises and recruits in the Voluntary, Community Care and Housing Associations Sector.

Employment Contracts and Policies

The Policies Checklist we have compiled will flag up some issues you need to consider, such as Disciplinary and Grievance, Time Off in Lieu, Redundancy, Retirement. There are certain legal requirements to any employment contract. These include issuing a written ‘statement of employment particulars’ within 2 months of starting (sooner if working abroad), for any employee working longer than a month, with no minimum working hours. It must include names, start date, salary, hours and place of work, holidays. This or other documents must cover sick pay, pensions, length of contract if not permanent, any collective agreements.

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Advisory handbook from ACAS online (or order in print) from their publications website.

NCVO will send you model standard and fixed term employment contracts if you send an sae to the Helpdesk, NCVO, Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL (helpdesk phone 0800 2798 798).

Valuing the Voluntary Sector – Quality Conditions for Quality Services was a campaign from TGWU, September 2005, which included a charter of rights for people working in voluntary organisations. No longer running, but check Unite pages.

A Guide to Good Employment was produced by Northern Ireland sector support body NICVA, but disappeared from website in 2014 redesign. Try their HR or Resources sections for other employment help. While much of the human resources guidance will be common across the UK, do note that some legal requirements differ.

Please take legal advice or consult a support body for more guidance – we can’t give definitive information here due to the breadth of the subject and range of organisations who might be reading this.

Sources of Advice

  • Personnel consultants specialising in the sector will be listed on the management consultants list. This specialism may or may not be highlighted for an entry, but its worth asking.
  • ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) As well as their well-known role of mediating in disputes, they run a variety of employment related workshops at reasonable prices. They also have short advice publications, specimen forms etc. which can be downloaded from the web site or picked up for free from their offices, on such topics as contracts of employment, discipline at work, flexible employment requirements. Contact your regional office. London office: Clifton House, 83-117 Euston Road, NW1 2RB, phone 020 7396 5121.
  • HRNet, run by the Cranfield Trust, offers charities online Human Resources advice and access to information on HR developments.
  • Institute for Employment Studies A charity connected to Sussex Uni – all aspects of employment policy and practice, do research and consultancy.
  • HRZone has a variety of online resources, some free.
  • Your rights at work: A TUC guide comes as a result of the demand from the TUC’s Know Your Rights phone line. Order from Kogan Page, phone 01903 828800 (£8-99).

Work as part of life

How far work should be allowed to dominate an individual’s life is increasing in importance as an issue in the sector. Why should relationships and social life suffer because of your work being so crucial? Isn’t it better for all (including performance at work) to strike a fair balance? These are some of the questions you can investigate further via the following links:

  • Working Families believes that implementing work-life balance practices helps the voluntary sector build capacity through flexible working and improve recruitment and retention. 1-3 Berry Street, London, EC1V 0AA, phone 020 7253 7243, email:
  • The Work Foundation did have relevant publications such as Time to go home – embracing the homeworking revolution (May 03), which includes management and legal advice, and The Work-Life Manual, ‘a practical tool … to help identify what work-life initiatives you can introduce’, but not sure that these are still available.
  • Getting It Right: Improving work-life balance in your business, jointly produced by NSPCC with Federation of Small Businesses and British Chambers of Commerce, is a free practical guide looking at how 11 different businesses (including a voluntary organisation and a housing association) have successfully introduced flexible employment patterns. However, it doesn’t appear to be available any more, Jan ’06.
  • Family and Childcare Trust Has information and advice for parents on childcare options and entitlements.

Note that certain, basic, legal requirements on flexible working were introduced from April ’03. See most of the above for details.


Employment Regulations

Useful websites

More indepth/for the professional

  • For loads of web links check out British Employment Law Information. This is a service from DiscLaw Publishing, who work with the Law Society. It also provides access to the professional Employment Law pages for £5 a day, which you can sign up for instantly (something like £120 for a year, which includes CD-ROM too).
  • Employment Law free email news service from Daniel Barnett (barrister). Only for those who really want to keep on top of legal developments as they happen – a professional approach.
  • Employment Appeal Tribunal for law reports.


We don’t claim or seek to cover everything here. Just the issues most likely to impact on voluntary sector organisations. See Useful web sites (above) for more.

Employers Liability Insurance is a requirement – check out Insurers if you haven’t got this covered, and remember to check whether it covers volunteers working for you. We understand that in addition to having to display a valid certificate proving your cover, the organisation must now keep this for 40 years!

Work Permits are administered by part of Home Office’s Border Agency. Work permit arrangements allow employers based in Great Britain to employ people who are not nationals of a European Economic Area country and are not otherwise entitled to work in this country. See Gov.Uk section ‘Check if someone can work in the UK‘.

National Minimum Wage regulations are enforced by HM Revenue & Customs. Rates are revised from time to time. If you pay more than reimbursement of expenses to volunteers, watch out! There are also implications on record keeping, especially if you pay less than £12,000 per year (£1,000 per month). The NMW information line is on 0845 8450 360.

Unfair dismissal considerations apply after one year. This means that if you have had someone on temporary contracts for more than a year, you might have a problem if that employment comes to an end (for whatever reason) unless you know your employment law.

Criminal Record Checks /Barring We give the basics of this under Volunteers and the law. This mainly impacts on care and children organisations. See Disclosure and Barring Service (was Criminal Records Bureau, alternative link on In Scotland, it is Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks – see Disclosure Scotland or Volunteer Scotland resources.

Unions, industrial action

Union recognition and ballots. Part of Employment Relations Act 1999 provisions, in force from June 2000.

BIS has published a guide for employees / trade union members who are considering taking industrial action, in pdf format ‘Industrial Action and the Law‘. Trade Unions and workers rights section.

Leave, working hours, work-life balance

Parental Leave – Maternity and Paternity leave. Improvements in entitlements from April 03. There are also rights for time off for emergencies involving dependants (but no obligation for this to be paid).

Working Time Regulations came into force October 1998. 48 hours averaged over 17 weeks is the maximum unless the employee has agreed in writing, or there is a union agreement. There are various other rights and some types of workers with other get outs. on leave and time off (England, Wales and NI).


The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the official anti-discrimination body.

Disability Discrimination Act See the disability related sites on People Resources page. Employers with 15 or more employees may not discriminate against current or prospective employees with disabilities. Small employer exemption ended Oct ’04.

Religious and sexual orientation discrimination regulations from December 2003. See ACAS guidance.

Race discrimination Under amendments brought in July 03, an exemption from the 1976 Race Relations Act that had allowed charities serving particular racial groups to recruit staff from a particular racial group has been partially repealed. ‘Genuine occupational requirements’ can still be used when recruiting staff, where the nature of the employment requires someone of a particular race, ethnic or national origin.

People Management Resources

Human resources, equal ops

Our sample documents

Equal Opportunity issues

Most of these don’t just apply to staffing matters, but it is often where you come across them first.

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission.
  • Race On The Agenda (ROTA) is a policy development information and research service for the Black voluntary sector in London.
  • Equality Commission for Northern Ireland Took over the functions of Commission for Racial Equality for Northern Ireland, the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland, the Fair Employment Commission and the Northern Ireland Disability Council.
  • The government’s Disability pages.
  • Business Disability Forum is funded and managed by member organisations, to “make it easier to recruit and retain disabled employees and to serve disabled customers”.
  • Harassment Law UK This web site has been designed to provide practical information and relevant web links for anyone who is the victim of harassment or who has been wrongly accused of harassment, whether it is racial or sexual harassment, or bullying at work.

Websites and Facilities

Also see: Further pointers on recruitment on our Managing People page.

  • ACEVO, the chief executives body, has set up an Employee Assistance Programme service, working with Worklife Support. This provides employee (and their families) access to such things a counselling, advice services (legal, debt etc.), career and job support, management consultation and coaching.
  • Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development for professional personnel practitioners. Info on the site for non-members is restricted, but worth checking, especially their factsheets (in Knowledge section). You can also book their short courses online, but they aren’t cheap. Organisational membership could be a good way of getting access to personnel information on a regular basis. CIPD House, Camp Road, London, SW19 4UX, phone 020 8971 9000, email:
  • Croner have various materials available online but less freely available material than there used to be.
  • Fenman (Trainer Active) has a wide range of relevant training resources.
  • GetFeedback provides an online HR questionnaire facility – for appraisals, team development etc.
  • HRZone
  • Institute of Employment Rights bills itself as ‘a think tank for the labour movement’, ‘acting as a focal point for the spread of new ideas on the field of labour law’.
  • Investors in People There is a perception that signing up for IiP is only for the larger organisation, as it involves a fair bit of paper work. It is about improving peoples performance, flexibility and motivation, particularly in times of change. At Jan 01, there are some 366 charitable organisations with the standard, which has 4 key principles: commitment to develop employees to achieve business goals and targets, planning to review training and development needs required in context of the business, action assuring relevant step are taken to meet the needs, evaluation measuring the outcomes of training and development for individuals and the organisation.
  • Check your local council for voluntary service/voluntary action for any personnel and employment advice services offered. More likely for larger outfits.
  • SCVO in Scotland and the other national umbrella bodies have people management sections on their websites.
  • Trades Union Congress – TUC Their site has information on employment rights, health and safety etc. as well as the organising/joining trades union information you would expect.

Briefings, checklists, facts

NCVO will send you model standard and fixed term employment contracts if you send an sae to the Helpdesk, NCVO, Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL (phone 0800 2798 798).

Chancellor Formecon is one of a number of commercial organisations providing a variety of Personnel Management forms, posters, manuals etc. Minimum quantities can be a pain, but quality is fairly reliable.

CIPD research (Feb 00) found an average absence rate in the voluntary sector of 1 in 20 working days (5%), compared with 1 in 30 elsewhere. 37 per cent of absences were down to ‘Monday morning blues’. (Quoted in ThirdSector, 22/3/01)

Voluntary Sector Workforce Development Plan, published Voluntary Sector National Training Organisation, Feb 01, (see Training Resources) includes a round-up of useful statistics for the sector in England/Wales/Scotland (most from Skills Matter report):

20% of staff are managers and administrators, 18% in clerical occupations.

25% are educated to degree level, compared with 23% in public sector, 10% in commercial.

A third of organisations with paid staff reported difficulties filling posts, particularly managerial.

Skills gaps identified: 44% had some amongst current employees; 50% lacked understanding of effective IT use; 40% planning and forward thinking skills missing; 38% basic IT skills; 48% fundraising.

Limited recruitment pool in rural areas.

Research Resources

Info on a range of UK-based bodies carrying out or reporting research into various aspects of society, economics etc. We tend to focus on those of particular interest to our target audience.

Also see: Issue-based support organisations.


Local and Regional resources

Neighbourhood statistics ONS, the government’s statistical service, has closed its  Neighbourhood Statistics service (2017).

YorkshireFutures Regional Intelligence Network provides stats, policy analysis, research.


PolicyLibrary is more of a pointer to public policy research.

ARK is a source of social and political information for Northern Ireland (joint project of Queen’s University Belfast and University of Ulster).

Bevan Foundation “the social justice think tank for Wales”.

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is an independent charity that engages with the worlds of research and policy, practice and campaigning.

Centre for Economic Policy Research Reports include titles such as The New Economics of Rising Inequalities (with OUP).

Centre for Effective Services Irish organisation which focuses on “implementation science” – see their  implementation resources page.

Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) – thinktank established by the labour movement in 2012 to act as a centre for left debate and discussion.

Centre for Local Economic Strategies Works in ‘the area of local economic regeneration … and serves a network of local authorities, Training and Enterprise Councils etc’. Services and information available on a one-off or subscription basis. Barclay House, 35 Whitworth Street West, Manchester, M1 5NG, phone 0161 236 7036.

Centre for Policy on Ageing Promotes informed debate about issues concerning older people.

Centre for Policy Studies is an independent centre-right think tank.

Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh.

Centre for Scottish Public Policy.

Centre for the Study of Public Policy at University of Strathclyde.

Civitas, the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, aims to “deepen public understanding of the legal, institutional and moral framework that makes a free and democratic society possible”. A useful European think tanks list, too.

Countryside and Community Research Institute at University of Gloucester.

Demos ‘is an independent think tank and research institute based in London. Launched in 1993, its role is to help reinvigorate public policy and political thinking and to develop radical solutions to long term problems.’

Directory of Social Change Over 40 years of research experience with award winning research projects.

Economic and Social Research Council ‘is the UK’s leading research funding and training agency addressing economic and social concerns’. An academic body – find others via UK Research and Innovation.

Eurostat European statistics of all types.

Foreign Policy Centre is ‘committed to revitalising debate about foreign policy in an age of increasing global interdependence.’ Mezzanine, Elizabeth House, 39 York Road, London, SE1 7NQ, phone 020 7401 5350.

Foundation for Information Policy Research studies the interaction between information technology and society.

Institute of Economic Affairs Mission is ‘to improve public understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society, with particular reference to the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.’

Institute for Fiscal Studies Mainly on economics and taxation issues, but includes consideration of impacts on/of society. Have done some research with CAF. From site redesign winter 04/05, charity related publications are no longer grouped, so do a search on Charities as keyword. Phone 020 7636 3784, email:

Institute for Public Policy Research Influential centre-left think tank, aim is to promote and contribute to a greater understanding of key social, economic and political questions. With their web site now accessible its now well worth checking out. 30-32 Southampton St, London, WC2E 7RA, phone 020 7470 6100.

Institute of Race Relations ‘conducts research and produces educational resources which are at the cutting edge of the struggle for racial justice in Britain and internationally. It seeks to reflect the experience of those who suffer racial oppression and draws its perspectives from the most vulnerable in society.’

Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services Promoting positive outcomes for people who use Scotland’s social services.

Institute for Social Banking International organisation based in Germany.

Institute of Welsh Affairs.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation Do a wide variety of research on issues which matter to the sector, including volunteering, housing, social welfare. Website includes links to other sites with research information, as well as having much of their own available online.

Local Area (previously Authorities) Research and Intelligence Association (LARIA) A good links page. Of most relevance to areas of work in which councils are prominent (e.g. care, housing).

National Centre for Social Research ‘is the largest independent social research institute in Britain. It conducts social research among members of the public to provide information on a range of social policy issues in Britain.’ 35 Northampton Square, London EC1V OAX, phone 020 7250 1866, email:

Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Office of National Statistics The government’s agency, giving ‘the latest comprehensive range of official UK statistics and information about statistics as well providing free access to a selection of recently released publications in downloadable pdf format.’

PIRC Independent provider of research on corporate governance and corporate responsibility issues for shareholders (full name is Pensions Investment Research Consultants). See also Ethical Investment – Resource Extra

Research in Practice for Adults (takes over from Centre for Evidence-Based Social Services?) – research utilisation organisation for adult social care.

Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House is an independent research and membership organisation working to promote the understanding of key international issues.

Runnymede Trust UK-based independent think tank on ethnicity and cultural diversity, working ‘to challenge racial discrimination, to influence anti-racist legislation and to promote a successful multi-ethnic Britain’. 133 Aldersgate Street, London, EC1A 4JA, phone 020 7600 9666, email:

Scottish Universities Insight Institute “promotes collaboration and engagement between researchers and wider society”.

Social Market Foundation. Established 1989 to provide a source of innovative economic and social policy ideas.

Social Policy Association, amongst other things produces Journal of Social Policy, and Social Policy and Society

Social Research Association Exists ‘to advance the conduct, development and application of social research’.

Socio-Legal Studies Association produces newsletter, annual conference as well as information on research areas.

Sociological Research Online ‘publishes applied sociology, focusing on theoretical, empirical and methodological discussions which engage with current political, cultural and intellectual topics and debates.’ Quarterly (last days of Feb, May, Aug, Nov). Has a full list of useful links. Individuals should be able to get access to most info on-screen, but in theory at least there are restrictions around the Archives for networked organisations.

Third Sector Knowledge Portal is an online library and web catalogue, developed by the Third Sector Research Centre to promote and preserve evidence, research and analysis of the ever-changing work of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. See our page for further voluntary sector research bodies.

The Young Foundation undertakes research to identify and understand unmet social needs and then develops practical initiatives and institutions to address them. Includes Institute of Community Studies?

Other Sources

Alliance for Useful Evidence promotes useful evidence in decision making across social policy. A network of individuals and organisations from across government, universities, charities, business, UK and wider.

Social Science Research Network Well-connected worldwide resource.

Online editions of newspapers and magazines are providing a useful source if you can only find the right site and section. We suggest trying:

Opinion pollsters major players includes Ipsos MORI.

UN Statistics Division – Social Indicators.

Doing it

Social Research Association has a number of resources and publications,  including on research ethics.

Charities should check out the Charity Commission guidance intended for any charity that carries out, or funds others to carry out, research.

Guide to applying ethical research principles from Scotland’s Third Sector Research Forum.

  • ARVAC promotes the use of research by small/local/community organisations (see Sector Development page).
  • Community University Partnership Project from University of Brighton aims to help local/regional community and voluntary organisations develop their work through research.
  • Interchange is a charity based at University of Liverpool that “facilitates research by social science HE students for the benefit of local voluntary & community groups”.
  • National Centre for Research Methods Has pointers to training sources, publications etc on improving methodolody and capacity. Academically based.
  • Opinion Research Services is a public sector specialist based at University of Wales Swansea.
  • Radical Statistics (RadStats) believes that statistics can be used as part of campaigns for progressive social change.
  • Scotland’s Third Sector Research Forum, supported by Evaluation Support Scotland.
  • Science Shop from Queens University Belfast and University of Ulster. Students can assist Northern Ireland voluntary and community groups with research projects on social science research, health science issues or policy, environmental and geographical questions, historical research, educational issues, information technology.
  • The American Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits has a section on Basic Research Methods. Their pages are generally ‘library links’ but looks well organised.