As the lines between public, private and voluntary become more and more blurred, what will the smaller, local charity sector look like in five or 20 years’ time? We are seeking your submissions to our research on this often-vital resource.

This call for evidence closed on Monday 28 September 2015. An IPPR report that incorporates the submitted evidence will be published later this year.

The charity sector is facing a period of unprecedented turbulence. Charities are increasingly competing directly with one another, with divisions emerging between larger and smaller charities. At the same time, the boundaries between big charities and private-sector organisations are becoming increasingly blurred.

This changing environment is particularly challenging for locally based, small and medium-sized voluntary organisations, not least because of a significant shift in commissioning towards competitive tendering at scale. Many are forced to dedicate more resources to tendering and monitoring – in order to demonstrate impact and value for money – and to change their activities to better reflect the expectations of commissioners.

To this end, IPPR North is undertaking a review of existing literature on small and medium-sized charities (annual turnover of between £25,000 and £1 million, working locally). In particular, we will examine:

  • Evidence (where it exists) as to the strengths and weaknesses of small charity organisations in service delivery, including responsiveness to local conditions, and their potential to develop more preventative, holistic and person-centred approaches to service provision.
  • Different methods for measuring economic and social contributions of small and medium-sized charities, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • The impact of current policy on small and medium-sized charities – particularly in relation to public funding models – and the implications of these findings, particularly in relation to charity engagement with disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Third-sector organisations, umbrella and infrastructure bodies, research organisations, academics, local councils – or any other interested group or individual – are invited to share their thoughts on why small and local charities matter, and how public funding models can better support them.