Voluntary and community sector

CRESR has expertise and a long standing interest in the study of the voluntary and community sector. We undertake research both for and about the sector.

Our work focuses on:

  • measuring and mapping the voluntary and community sector
  • measuring outcomes and impact, including of social return on investment
  • approaches to social investment and funding
  • understanding sustainability, resilience and financial vulnerability
  • engagement and participation of communities

We also undertake research on specific social, economic and policy issues for clients. For example, we carried out research on hidden homelessness for the housing charity Crisis and have looked at the role of community businesses for rural community councils.

Search our work

Building Capabilities Evaluation and Learning Contract: Formative Scoping Study

Project Directors: Dr Rob Macmillan (TSRC) / Professor Peter Wells (CRESR)
Project Duration: 2014

The Building Capabilities for Impact and Legacy (BC) initiative is a significant and innovative step-change in the way in which support for front line voluntary organisations (FLOs) is organised. It suggests the move away from a supply-side focus which tends to privilege the work of existing voluntary sector infrastructure organisations, towards a ‘demand-led’ emphasis which brings the priorities of front line organisations to the fore. The underlying principle is that providing greater choice and control for FLOs over access to support will lead to more effective interventions to develop their skills and confidence and, ultimately, to improved outcomes for beneficiaries.

Social Investment in Cumbria Research

Project Director: Professor Peter Wells
Project Duration: 2014

This study seeks to explore the viability and feasibility of loan funding for voluntary and community sector organisations in Cumbria. The focus of the study is on loans in the range £5k-50k. This reflects feedback from VCS organisations in Cumbria  that this segment of the social investment market is underserved in Cumbria. The study is being undertaken in partnership with the Charity Bank.

The project team also includes Kiri Langmead, Ellen Bennett (Sheffield Hallam University) and Professor Tony Chapman (Durham University).

The State of the Former Coalfields: Benchmarking Study

Project Director: Dr Tony Gore
Project Duration: 2014

A study exploring current characteristics and conditions in former coalfield areas of Britain in comparison with regional and national benchmarks. It involved assembly and analysis of a range of quantitative indicators on issues such as demography, employment, unemployment, health, housing, education and deprivation on the one hand; and a qualitative survey of community and voluntary sector scope and activity, with particular reference to available sources and changing scale of funding on the other. The analysis found that better connected areas have undergone substantial regeneration and diversification, whereas more peripheral coalfields continue to experience serious economic and social dislocation.

Evaluation of the Rotherham Social Prescribing Pilot

Project Director: Chris Dayson
Project Duration: 2013-2017

Evaluation of the social and economic costs and benefits of Voluntary Action Rotherham’s Social Prescribing Pilot being delivered on behalf NHS Rotherham CCG.

Evaluation of the Sheffield Community Network

Project Director: Dr Richard Crisp
Project Duration: 2012-2013

Impact evaluation of the Sheffield Community Network which aims to promote digital inclusion and social enterprises within disadvantaged areas in Sheffield.

Get in touch

For further information please contact Sarah Pearson at or call 0114 225 4902,
or Professor Peter Wells at or call 0114 225 6262.

Key clients

Action Together
Age UK
Big Lottery Fund
Bolton CVS
British Red Cross
Cabinet Office
Church Urban Fund
Community Fund
Community Links
CVS Rochdale
Economic and Social Research Council
Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT)
Groundwork UK
Heritage Lottery Fund
Home Office
Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council
Involve Yorkshire and Humber
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales
National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA)
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
NHS Nottingham City CCG
Northern Rock Foundation
Rural Action Derbyshire
Salford CVS
South Yorkshire Housing Association
Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Trussell Trust
Voluntary Action Rotherham
Yorkshire Adoption Agency
Yorkshire Rural Community Council
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