The bedrock of civil society is its core of small and informal groups where people have come together to make a difference to their local areas. Most of these organisations have no employees and their financial resources are often very limited. But they survive and thrive because of the hours of work put in by their unpaid volunteers.

In the first report from the Third Sector Trends 2016 study, we found that the contribution of third sector volunteers to the Northern economy is significant. In this short briefing paper we will build upon this, in order to explore in greater depth:

  • the extent of volunteering in the third sector in the North of England and assess the value of its resource in terms of the voluntarily given time: that is, its ‘people power’
  • the characteristics of those third sector organisations that are most reliant on volunteers, and how this varies by place
  • lessons for policy makers from this analysis.