A one day conference held at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, London, 1 May 2014.
This conference was the culmination of a one year project that sought to synthesise new forms of evidence on third sector organisations. A collaboration between Timescapes at the University of Leeds (Kahryn Hughes and Bren Neale), the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham (Rob Macmillan: ‘Real Times’) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (Véronique Jochum: ‘Pathways to Participation’), the project involved bringing together findings and insights from a network of studies using micro-dynamic methods to research the third sector over time. Network members are from the Institute for Voluntary Action Research/Association of Charitable Foundations (Ben Cairns: ‘Recession Watch’), and the Universities of Durham (Tony Chapman/Fred Robinson: ‘Third Sector Trends’); Edinburgh/Edinburgh Napier (Matthew Dutton/Valerie Edgell: ‘Changing Public Services Landscape and the Third Sector in Scotland’); and Strathclyde (Ian Cunningham: Employment Relations/Personalisation in the Voluntary Sector).
The aim of this conference was to present some of the emerging findings across the network to third sector practitioners and researchers, and to gain feedback from those working in the sector as we finalise our research. Following an introduction to the day from Dr Rob Macmillan (TSRC), and an inspiring keynote address from Karl Wilding (NCVO), a number of workshops were held, exploring themes that make up the changing landscape for the sector over time: sustainability, governance, independence, inter-organisational relationships, impact and participation. Overall this was a stimulating and well attended event, which generated a great deal of lively discussion and debate. Despite dealing with the challenges of the changing landscape for the sector, the discussions strongly re-enforced the resilience, strength and versatility of the sector and its capacity to survive, adapt, change and grow during hard times.