Voluntary sector research

Just Ideas has developed specific expertise in participatory voluntary sector research – working independently or as part of a team for specialist organisations such as IVAR. Our research has focused on exploring the contribution that voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations make to social change in their communities or more broadly; the value of the sector in a context of increased localisation, partnership working and cuts to public spending; and the role and value of volunteering in these organisations.

Recent examples include:

  • Institute for Voluntary Action Research – as Associates of IVAR we have worked on a range of research projects, particularly focusing on qualitative interview based research assessing if and how voluntary organisations or local charities achieve social change. This was an exciting and revealing piece of work at a time when many charities need to demonstrate their outcomes in a context of dwindling funding.
  • Changemakers and the Open University – we were contracted by Changemakers to deliver research assessing the potential for an online volunteering programme at the Open University. Through online surveys with over 1000 response and focus groups with OU students the resultant research made a strong case for the further development of ‘virtual volunteering’ at the OU.
  • Richmond CVS – Just Ideas worked with Al Bell Consulting to deliver a ‘State of the Sector Survey’ exploring the value of voluntary sector to the Royal London Borough of Richmond, the issues and constraints it faced and the support required to build the capacity of the sector.


“It’s great to hear you captured so much information from the visit. It is through visits like yours that we reflect on just how much we are doing, I can’t believe just how much you captured, and it was great that your approach and presence was such that the parents felt comfortable.”