Research Interests

I am currently Deputy Director of the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham, funded by ESRC, the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Office for the Third Sector (2008-2014).

My role is to:

  • Direct the centre’s programme of quantitative work, including our efforts to construct and make available large-scale databases on the third sector. Examples include reconstructing over 20 years observations from the Charity Commission register, and setting up a sample of some 10 000 charities in England and Wales to provide a robust basis for gathering evidence on charity income sources
  • Conduct quantitative analyses on voluntary action, evidenced in work on the relationship between social capital and volunteering, or on the idea of a ‘civic core’
  • Analyse datasets on the distribution, characteristics and resources of third sector organisations. Examples include papers on neighbourhood-level charitable organisations, the idea of a ‘charity desert’, and comparisons between the characteristics of charities in England, Scotland and Wales.

I have worked on aspects of the third / non-profit / voluntary sector for over 20 years, initially through work on university-community relationships in the UK and USA, including a Harkness Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. My work on health policy – initially from a geographical perspective – led to a concern with the voluntary sector through two routes.

Firstly, work on the pre-NHS hospital system, including the distribution, resources and utilisation of hospital services, and extending into a study of the role of hospital contributory schemes in generating financial support for hospitals.

Secondly, my work on voluntary action and volunteering developed through research into the effects of social capital on health; this required efforts to measure social capital at a small scale and to link the resultant indicators to health outcomes using multi-level techniques.

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