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COVID-19 and Voluntary Sector Organisations’ Response: Barometer

What is the barometer about?
COVID-19 is having a major impact on the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector. Understandably much of the focus has been on the loss of funding within the sector, and the loss of services that has resulted from these funding cuts. Less attention has been placed on the impact COVID-19 is having on employees and volunteers, and the practices that organisations are adopting to respond to the pandemic. In particular, we need more information about the ways in which the pandemic is impacting different types of organisations. We want to go beyond headlines to gain a deeper understanding, in real time as the impact of COVID-19 unfolds.

The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector barometer will run for 15 months, from early September 2020 to November 2021. A short survey will capture key indicators about the impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector. The survey will have standard questions each month and then a few questions on the specific situation occurring at that time. The survey is run jointly by Nottingham Trent University, Sheffield Hallam University and NCVO.

There are other surveys on the sector, what makes this one different?
Before designing the survey we did an extensive mapping of the surveys that currently exist in the sector to ensure that we are not repeating what is already out there. This survey has a number of elements that make it distinct.
• The barometer focuses on how COVID-19 is impacting on the way organisations are run and on the paid staff and volunteers, rather than the financial impact. Whilst we will ask some questions about finance, these are more to understand the impact this has on the operation of organisations.
• It will look at not only registered charities, but community organisations and social enterprises. This gives it a much wider reach across the sector than many existing surveys and can help give more insight into how different types of organisations are responding.
• The results are longitudinal. This 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 – the quarterly panel survey and the 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 publicly available in a format that is easy to understand and use.

How might you as an organisation benefit from the barometer?
One of the unique aspects of this barometer is the results will be publicly updated monthly. Organisations can use the results to compare themselves against other organisations of similar type and size. This barometer will have a dashboard, that allows organisations to see how their
experiences compare to other organisations. This will help organisations better understand how they are doing and learn lessons from others.

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.

Who is running the barometer?
Researchers from Nottingham Trent University, NCVO (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. Together we bring a wealth of research expertise and sector experience. This project is located in the Centre for People, Work and Organisational Practice at Nottingham Trent University, led by Professor Daniel King, alongside Associate Professor Will Rossiter, Professor Helen Shipton, Joanna Stuart, Dr Sarah Smith and Dr Nene Ibokessien (NTU), Véronique Jochum, Keeva Rooney and Lisa Hornung (NCVO) and Professor Tracey Coule (Sheffield Hallam).

How to find out more
Please contact the project team at or the project lead Daniel King () for more information.

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