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COVID-19 and voluntary sector organisations’ response: barometer

Researchers from Nottingham Trent UniversityNCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) and Sheffield Hallam University have secured funding from Economic and Social Research Council to conduct an investigation into the way that COVID-19 is impacting the sector and how organisations are responding. In this blog, Nene Ibokessien, research fellow at Nottingham Trent University, talks about the research, why they need your support and how the work could benefit the sector.

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page, please scroll down.

COVID-19 is having a major impact on the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector. To assess its effect on the sector, our project focuses on how COVID-19 is impacting on the way organisations are run and the impact on the paid staff and volunteers, alongside the financial impact. The main ideas which have underpinned the beginning of this project emerged through dialogue with key partners in the sector and were co-designed with NCVO. The project has three purposes in mind:

  • To provide real-time data and learning on how COVID-19 is impacting the whole sector and, significantly, how this varies across different organisations by size, structure and services offered.
  • To present lessons-learned reports regarding the impacts and responses to COVID-19 from organisations; particularly focusing on the new working-practices and innovations which can be scaled across the UK.
  • To put forward insights which it is envisioned will assist the long-term resilience of the entire VCSE sector.

As part of the wider project, which includes panel surveys and in-depth semi-structured interviews, we are launching a monthly barometer to gain a deeper understanding, in real-time as the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold. The VCSE Sector barometer will run for 15 months, from early September 2020 to November 2021.

What makes this survey different?

We appreciate that there have been a lot of surveys on COVID-19 over the last six months and we do not want to replicate the good work that has already taken place. We have been cautious to ensure that we are measuring something different to what has been captured already and we will need your help with that. The barometer differs from existing surveys in four particularly important ways:

  • It focuses on how COVID-19 is impacting on the way organisations are run and on the paid staff and volunteers. We will ask some questions about finance, but these are more to understand the impact this has on the operation of organisations. 
  • It will not only look at registered charities, but also community organisations and social enterprises. This will give it a much wider reach across the sector. 
  • The results are longitudinal. The barometer will be conducted over 15 months giving data on the impact on the sector over time.  
  • It will also be part of a wider set of data and evidence, there will also be a quarterly panel survey and 300 interviews – giving a richer insight into the experience of different voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations. 
  •  All the datasets will be anonymised and made freely and publicly available in a format that is easy to understand and use.

How will you be able to use the barometer? 

One of the unique aspects of this barometer is the results will be publicly updated monthly.  

The barometer will have a dashboard that allows organisations to see how their experiences compare to other organisations of similar type and size. This will help organisations better understand how they are doing and share lessons with each other. 

Completing the survey

You can fill in the survey each month here. Every month organisations that complete the survey will be entered into a prize draw with the potential to win £200. At the end of the project, all participating organisations will be entered into a prize draw to win £2,000. 

How can I find out more?

Please contact the project team at or the project lead Daniel King ( for more information or visit the project website at CPWOP Covid-19 and VCSE  

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

Image: Aneroid barometer published by Robinson, Son & Pike (1872). Original from the British Library. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

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