Category Archives: Current and Recent Research Projects

Third Sector Trends 2018-2020

Third Sector Trends is a longitudinal study which was established in 2008.  As such it is the longest running research programme of its kind in the UK.  The work is to continue from 2018-2020 thanks to the support of the Community Foundation serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

The impact of the study is considerable as it informs voluntary and community organisations, cooperatives, community businesses and social enterprise about the wellbeing and direction of the sector.  Its results are also widely used by policy makers and funding bodies.

The original aim of the Third Sector Trends study, when commissioned by Northern Rock Foundation, was to examine objectively the structure and dynamics of the third sector in North East England. In 2015, the Community Foundation assumed responsibility for the study and its legacy and took it forward working with JRF, Garfield Weston and IPPR North.

The work has included both quantitative and qualitative analysis and in the early stages involved the Universities of Durham, Teesside and Southampton.

The TSO1000 survey

The longest running aspect of the study is its biennial survey of the sector which will enter its fifth iteration in 2019. The large scale study now collects data from right across the North of England allowing for in-depth analysis of more than 3,500 respondents. It is expected that, in addition to the North East England study, the research will continue in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber in 2019.

The TSO50 study

A second strand of the work is a longitudinal study of a cohort of 40 third sector organisations in North East England. This began in 2010 and has continued to 2018. Analysis of this very detailed study will proceed in 2019 alongside the survey work.

The role and impact of charitable foundations

Additionally in 2019, a study of the third sector from the point of view of charitable foundations will take place. This research, which will include 15-20 charitable grant making foundations based in or beyond the North East region, will  examine the approaches taken to funding and will pay special attention to its likely impact on localities throughout the region.

The study has produced many reports which are available at this address:

Trading interactions amongst community businesses in Bradford, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough

Professor Tony Chapman and Dr Tanya Gray are starting a new project for the  Power to Change Research Institute on trading interactions amongst community businesses in Bradford, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.

The term ‘community business’ (CB) includes a range of organisations including: Companies Limited by Guarantee, Cooperatives and Community Benefit Societies, Community Interest Organisations, Community Interest Companies and Registered Charities. Some CBs have been operating for decades while others are relatively new, emerging from, for example, asset transfer programmes. While some community businesses are large, employing many staff, the majority are quite small.

Most CBs rely primarily upon trading to sustain their activity. Trading includes sales of space, self-generated services that meet the identified needs of the local community or manufactured goods, and through the delivery of services for other organisations. Because they also tend to rely on grants and in-kind support from other organisations, we need to know how that affects their approach to earning income from trading.

The principal aim of the research is to explore the extent to which community businesses build beneficial relationships with other community businesses – thereby strengthening each other’s financial situation and deepening their contribution to local economy and society.

Examples of such interactions may include opportunity signposting and appraisal, customer referral, inter-trading, sharing facilities or kit, partnership bidding for grants or contracts, skills-exchanges, media and public relations initiatives, informally sharing the burden of roles in representation on boards and committees, and so on. These interactions may produce indirect or direct financial benefit.

In the research we intend to explore the range and depth of relationships CBs establish and find out how they were initiated and became embedded over time. We also want to find out if these trading relationships are more effective in meeting ‘local needs’ and being ‘locally accountable’ than other charities or private businesses. Finally, it will be useful to find out what kinds of support CBs may need to build stronger relationships with other CBs in their locality and explore how and by whom such support be best delivered.

Knowing how and why some CBs successfully build and sustain positive working relationships with other CBs will help gauge the scope for and benefits to be gained from intensifying positive, trusting and mutually beneficial trading relationships. In disadvantaged areas, where there may be fewer private sector businesses, such interactions could produce significant economic and social benefit by retaining resources within the community.

Indirectly, CBs may benefit significantly if funders and development organisations such as Power to Change become aware of the benefits of promoting or engendering certain types of CB-to-CB interactions and thereby deepen the quality, volume and depth of positive interactions.

Communicating the benefits of CB-to-CB interactions may help to encourage more of this kind of activity – but only when we can be sure that the circumstances leading to the establishment of such relationships are identifiable, understood and replicable.

The research begins in March 2018 and will conclude in April 2019 with a series of reports and events to communicate the key messages.

Auckland Castle Trust Heritage Lottery Fund Project Evaluation

A remarkable regeneration project is now well underway to create a world-class visitor destination in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. At its heart is a mission to revitalise the future of the town through employment, training and educational opportunities.

As an attraction, The Auckland Project will comprise Auckland Castle, for centuries the private palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham, along with galleries, gardens, restaurants, a park, a hotel and England’s first museum exploring the history of faith in the British Isles.

Thanks to National Lottery players, The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has made a substantial grant of £11.4m to The Project to support the conservation of the Castle and the creation of the new Faith Museum, as well as associated community activities.

Professor Fred Robinson and Ian Zass-Ogilvie from St Chad’s College have now been commissioned by The Auckland Project to undertake an evaluation of this important HLF-supported work.

Fred Robinson said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to support The Auckland Project. It’s a really interesting approach to regeneration and we all hope it will make a big difference to the local economy and help revitalise the community.”

“Our role is to evaluate what’s being achieved by the Project – and look at the wider impacts too. We look forward to working closely with The Auckland Project.”

Investing in small charities in ‘cold spots’: Redcar & Cleveland and Port Talbot & Neath

Small charities form the bedrock of civil society.   So their wellbeing needs to be attended to, especially in places where there are concentrations of economic difficulties.  The problem with previous attempts to strengthen small charities is that ‘gold standards’ about what a successful organisation should look like have been adopted.  And far too often, standardised tools have been developed to build the ‘capacity’ and ‘capability’ of such charities which simply don’t address the specific needs of individual charities.

Lloyds Bank Foundation has invested significant resources in the development of charities for many years through its Engage and Enhance programmes.  But some charities which really need help don’t meet the eligibility criteria. This project seeks to change that by working with a small number of charities, intensively, over a period of a year.

Known as Lloyds Bank Foundation’s ‘Grow’ programme, this project seeks to experiment with new approaches to strengthen small charities without demanding standardised outcomes which meet the expectations of outsiders rather than of charities themselves.

Based in two areas of the UK which have been challenged economically in recent years, the project will invest significant levels of support to help charities become more resilient as organisations and effective in what they do but without necessarily expecting them to grow or change beyond the ambitions they set themselves.

Professor Tony Chapman has been chosen to assist in the development of this two year programme and will evaluate the success of the intervention.

The project will conclude in June 2018 and our evaluation report will be published in July 2018.  A link to the publication will be provided when available.


Can deferred gratification help young people stay committed to apprenticeships?

Professor Tony Chapman and Stephanie Rich are to evaluate the National Youth Agency’s My Money Now programme which is funded by the Money Advice Service. The project brings together tried and tested approaches to inform the development of financial literacy and sustained money management skills and builds on the success of an existing intervention (Barclays Money Skills Champions).

Its purpose is to strengthen the existing evidence on the immediate advantages of the previous programme for Money Skills Champions, to get a better understanding of how peer education improves the financial capability of 16-21 year olds who are engaged in apprenticeships and which, in turn, has the potential to help influence subsequent decision making which could have longer-term benefit by enhancing the likelihood of improved retention on apprenticeship schemes.

More specifically, the evaluation aims to explore the efficacy of the project through the following research questions:

  • To determine if the NYA’s existing approach to ‘peer education’ has distinctive and beneficial impacts upon young people’s approach to learning about discrete financial issues which are replicable for young people from disadvantaged or marginalised backgrounds.
  • To find out if the financial learning intervention has a positive impact by improving young people’s knowledge about financial issues and strengthens their locus of control when making immediate financial decisions.
  • To explore whether increasing knowledge and skills through peer education about financial issues may impact positively on young people’s ability to navigate key life transitions by weighing up the ‘opportunity costs’ of their decisions in financial and personal development terms.

The project runs for 15 months, beginning in January 2017.

This project has now been completed and it is expected that the final report will be published on the MAS evidence hub website in May 2018 – a link will be provided here when available.

Tackling barriers to young people’s aspirations and ambitions in County Durham



durham-county-council-logoProfessor Tony Chapman, Dr Tanya Gray, Stephanie Rich and Paul Braidford have been appointed by the Institute for Local Governance to undertake a project on young people’s employability and enterprising aspirations in County Durham.  The project is being undertaken for Durham County Council, will run until March 2018 and has the following aims:

  • To provide an up-to-date evidence review drawing on key quantitative indicators drawing upon County Durham, regional and national indicators. The purpose of the exercise is to cement understanding on the extent to which aspirations are formulated, why aspirations are not being met and what needs to be done in employability terms to address any mis-match between aspiration and achievement.
  • An examination of  current education, employability, skills and personal development  provision, and in so doing, assist the County Council in recognising the diverse sources of support available to young people from the public, private and third sectors and how these services interact..
  • Gathering of qualitative data on the quality and strength of interactions between agencies and organisations in the area to include analysis of formal contractual relationships, partnership working, complementary practice and autonomous working.
  • Based upon the above phases of work, a report has been written which explains why barriers to young people’s ambitions exist, and how organisations will need to think differently about their practices to help young people overcome these hurdles.

The final report has now been drafted and the project is in the final consultation phase.  It is expected that the final report will be published in September  2018 by the Institute for Local Governance.

Who runs the North East now?

Professor Fred Robinson is working with Professor Keith Shaw of Northumbria University on a new study looking at structures and processes of governance in North East England. They will be finding out who runs public services in the region and assessing how accountable they are. They will be looking at different models of governance — some elected, others appointed. And they will be asking what works best and how we can make governance better.

It’s certainly a timely project. There is considerable disenchantment with the people who run things. Many people distrust elites, politicians and the ‘establishment’. There are widespread feelings of powerlessness and alienation – as the EU Referendum demonstrated. But there is no simple answer to the problems facing us. Electing people to run things like Councils or the Police seems attractive, but turnouts are so low that there’s really only limited democratic legitimacy. Appointing people to run services – the boards of NHS Trusts, or the Governing Bodies of universities, for example – may bring in expertise, but can be seen to be about recruiting the ‘usual suspects’. And referendums — making decisions by asking the people — don’t seem to work all that well either.

Fred and Keith want the research to inform, but also to be the basis for challenge and reform. They’ve looked at these issues before, back in 2000, when much of the concern was about unelected quangos. They helped influence the debate then – institutions in the region started thinking more about the gender balance (or lack of it) on their boards and the need to have representation from BME communities. Since 2000, some things have changed for the better – but there’s certainly room for a lot more improvement. Many institutions are still dominated by the ‘male, pale and stale’.

The project has secured funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Institute for Local Governance and Newcastle-based Law firm Muckle LLP. It started in September 2016 and will run for a year. It’s a practical project, which aims to encourage better practice and make governance more accountable, transparent and representative.

The final report can be found Who Runs the North East Now — Main Report Oct 2017 FINAL (2).

Third Sector Trends across the North of England 2016

In September 2016, the Third Sector Trends study will be formally launched across the North of England. We need to hear from all types of voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises, whether large or small, thriving, struggling or going on as normal. The study will take place in each northern region in three separate surveys:

community foundation logoIn North East England (funded by the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland). Link to the survey questionnaire:


In Yorkshire and the Humber (funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation); Link to the survey questionnaire:

Garfield Weston.jpeg                                                         Ipprnorth.jpeg


In North West England* (funded by IPPR\North and Garfield Weston); Link to the survey questionnaire:

*In Greater Manchester, the study started in July 2016 to complement a separate study by a consortium of local third sector development agencies.

We will be able to tell you what is happening, in big picture terms, in the sector in your area, region and across Northern England?

These are just a few of the issues the Third Sector Trends study can explore

    • We can make well evidenced estimates on the changing shape, size and structure of the sector as a whole (comparing with previous TST data and from a major national government study in 2010 on each local authority area).
    • We can also produce data reports for any local authority area, sub region or county so you can see what is happening in the area your Community Foundation serves.
    • We can explore the different experiences, practices and expectations of organisations by size, purpose, geographical location, legal form, and so on – this will help funders identify the kinds of organisations which may be able to benefit most from grants.
    • We can make good estimates of the level of employment and volunteering in the sector and determine where employment or volunteering is growing or contracting.
    • We can show which areas of beneficiary need are doing well or experiencing difficulties.
    • We can calculate the economic value of the sector using robust estimates and also monetise the value of volunteering.

We need third sector, public sector and private sector organisations to encourage voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises to respond to this major study. It is vital that as many organisations and groups as possible find out about the study so that they have a chance to respond – so we need you to tell them about it in newsletters and to send links to the survey through by email to your address lists.

Each study will result in a separate regional report together with one report, published by IPPR\North for the whole Northern Region.

If you would like to know more about the study, please contact Professor Tony Chapman, St Chad’s College, Durham University:


The impact of Japanese inward investment on North East England

Dzulfian Syafrian is an economist whose research covers public policy, financial institutions and economic development. Since January 2016, Dzulfian has been DSC_0419%5b1%5d (5)undertaking his PhD at St. Chad’s College and Durham University Business School.

Dzulfian’s PhD project is focusing on the impact of Japanese inward investment in manufacturing Industry on the economy and society of North East England. This research concentrates on the relationship between Japanese companies and indigenous British companies.

The project aims to:

  • understand how the Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) and the process of “Japanisation” of Western companies works in Britain;
  • define what the effects of Japanese FDI are on the economy and society of the North East; and,
  • determine what challenges companies face and how they overcome these.

This project is the under supervision of Professor Tony Chapman (St. Chad’s College – Durham University) and Professor John Mawson (Director of the Institute for Local Governance, Durham University Business School).

Sharing the responsibility for public health and wellbeing

Developing effective relationships between health authorities, local authorities and third sector organisations to improve public health and social wellbeing in a period of austerity

Professors Tony Chapman and Fred Robinson, together with Professor John Mawson, Director of the Institute for Local governance have won an ESRC Impact Acceleration Esrc_logoAward to assist health organisations, local authorities and third sector organisations to develop complementary policy and practice strategies to improve public health and social wellbeing in North East England. Based on shared learning drawing on a parallel project, Keeping it Simple, health authorities will be encouraged to reflect upon and embed new ‘ways of thinking’ about their working relationships with external organisations working in the field of health, mental health and social care.

In order to better understand interactions between organisations, the work will explore activity using the following dimensions of policy and service delivery where impact can be achieved by 2019:

  • Working in complementary ways (Health authorities, LAs and TSOs, to a large extent, shape the way they choose to work autonomously or collectively. But the acquisition and allocation of resources is a complex process which interferes with value systems, restricts notions of autonomy and can upset relationships. This impact of this work is to help organisations recognise when it is best to use formal partnerships, complementary relationships and when to work autonomously),
  • Commissioning and procurement (Health sector organisations can achieve better impact by working with local government and TSOs in designing processes which are more responsive to innovative delivery solutions. The impact of this will be to improve the quality and outcomes arising from outsourcing decisions and thereby produce stronger social impact and best value for service delivery).
  • Assessing the impact of autonomous and shared interventions (The impact of the programme will be effected by encouraging organisations to think about how to measure and make clearly evidenced judgements about the efficacy of appropriate objectives for autonomous, partnership or complementary interventions).
  • New thinking about co-production (Co production can involve the pooling and sharing of ideas, effort and resources – which is hard for autonomous organisations with different levels of power and capability to achieve. The impact to be achieved in this case study centres on demonstrating where, how and with what effect health sector organisations have already developed effective joint-working models with LAs and TSOs and determine if these good practices are replicable in areas which have previously not been considered or where partnerships have failed)

The project will involve work with four health organisations (South Tees Foundation Trust, County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS (mental health) Foundation, NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG), seven local authorities (Darlington Borough Council, Durham County Council, Gateshead Council, Northumberland County Council, Redcar and Cleveland Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Sunderland City Council), and the regional third sector infrastructure organisation, Voluntary Organisations Network North East.