2018 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference

Trust, Transparency and Accountability of Charities and Voluntary Organisations: Challenges for Policy, Practice and Research

Public trust in charities, voluntary organisations and wider civil society is under threat from a perceived lack of transparency and accountability surrounding its work. From the Oxfam scandal, to the failure of Kids Company, and ongoing concerns about fundraising practices, the media gaze and political spotlight is increasingly falling on organisations' work. This raises some important questions for research on the voluntary sector and volunteering:

  • How is the sector, and civil society more generally, affected by and responding to media and political challenges to become more transparent and accountable?
  • How is public trust holding-up in light of recent events, for individual organisations and the sector as a whole?

Alongside this intensified public attention, the voluntary sector and wider civil society continues to deal with a complex series of challenges associated with rising inequality, material hardship, and multiple disadvantage, whilst campaigning and advocating on behalf of some of society's most seldom heard voices. This broader context presents, inevitably, opportunities and challenges for the voluntary sector and volunteering, and high quality research and analysis are needed more than ever to help understand these.

The Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference - organised by NCVO and the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) - provides a unique opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share and discuss research that addresses the conference theme and the broader issues facing the voluntary sector and volunteering at this time.

Conference details

Date 6–7 September 2018
Location NCVO Conference Suite, London

Book a place

All delegates at the conference must pay the conference rates in order to participate, including those presenting a paper. To qualify for the member rate, delegates must be members of either VSSN or an institution which is a member of NCVO.

Early bird price (until 12 July)Regular price
Two-day member rate £265 £296
Two-day non-member rate £354 £384
One-day member rate £176 £198
One-day non-member rate £237 £256

The programme

Read this year’s conference programme.

Aims and themes

The conference aims to:

  • Contribute to evidence and theory-building in the field
  • Develop emerging research ideas
  • Inform and be informed by the work of practitioners
  • Inform and influence policy

We welcome submissions for individual papers, panel sessions and workshops. Given the conference theme, we are particularly keen to receive proposals that address issues associated with trust, accountability and transparency, but we do also welcome papers that address a range of issues relevant to volunteering and the voluntary sector. As such, submissions should be also aligned to the following streams:

  1. Civil society, democracy and grassroots voluntary action
  2. Volunteering, participation and social action
  3. Advances in theory and methods
  4. Resourcing the sector: funding, fundraising, philanthropy and social investment
  5. Organisational management and governance, including law and regulation
  6. Historical perspectives on the voluntary sector and voluntary action
  7. Sectoral boundaries: private-voluntary-public sector relations
  8. Understanding, measuring and valuing outcomes and impact

When submitting abstracts, authors will be asked which streams they feel their paper will fit best within. We welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, geography, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics.

Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize

Presenters who submit a full paper prior to the start of the conference will automatically be in with a chance of winning the Campbell Adamson Memorial prize for best paper, which includes a £500 prize.

New researchers

The Conference is an ideal opportunity for new or early career researcher looking to meet, discuss and present their research with other new researchers in a supportive setting. A special series of parallel sessions will be run as part of the conference for ‘new’ researchers. Attendance at this part of the conference is subsidised, and is intended for all early career researchers in the field of voluntary sector studies, whether postgraduate students or working/volunteering in the voluntary sector.

Information about the new researchers’ session

For booking information, please contact Jane Cullingworth at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Want to find out more?

Should you have any queries on the 2018 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research conference please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. us.

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