A major consultation is challenging the the status quo on research by asking donors and charity leaders what research they most want to help them in their vital work.
It will invite input from all UK charities, foundations and public or private donors, through an open ‘crowd-sourcing’ process, including a series of focus groups in London, Edinburgh, Bradford, Manchester and Cardiff. The project is supported by a distinguished advisory group of funders, private donors, researchers, charity leaders and umbrella bodies.
Sir Stephen Bubb, Director of Charity Futures, said: “Too often research in the charity sector is not focused on what matters to charities and donors. We need to remedy this. Charity Futures’ core belief is that a strong charity sector delivers a strong society. High quality, relevant, future-looking research has a big part to play in making the sector stronger, and our consultation will give donors and charities a unique chance to shape the research agenda in support of their work.
"We hope that this approach will also encourage more universities and academic centres to start looking at charity and philanthropy as a strong field for academic study and research. At the moment academia do not take much interest in charity. This must change."
The final conclusions of the study will be a prioritised list of research questions which donors and charities have raised. It will be published and publicly available for use by academics, researchers, research funders, donors, charities and policy bodies interested in charities and philanthropy.
Caroline Fiennes, Director of Giving Evidence, said: “It would be a good idea if researchers researched things that the people they endeavor to influence want researched, would it not? But researchers can’t intuit what donors, funders and charities are interested in – so we shall ask them! This study seems to be the first time that anybody has systematically consulted the people that academic research about charities and philanthropy aims to help and influence.
"We shall be using a rigorous research design, based on the model created by the James Lind Alliance for prioritizing research topics in medicine. This method is new to the charity and philanthropy worlds, but has become well-established over more than a decade in medicine.”
The consultation will begin next month, with focus groups in May and June, and will conclude by the end of the year.