COVID-19 & VCSE Organisation Responses

This project examines COVID-19 impact on voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. In particular, it focuses on providing real-time data about how the pandemic is impacting voluntary organisations working-practices and operations, their responses, learning and resilience.  

Overview: According to a recent government report (DCMS 06/05/2020) the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector is “fighting for survival”, with increased demand for its serviceswhilst simultaneously facing funding cuts estimated at £4.3bn (during March-May 2020), resulting in many VCSEs organisations estimated to be insolvent ‘within weeks’. As the report states:

 “Social distancing is making delivering services harder and more costly. Reserves are running out. Smaller charities, in particular, are at risk of imminent closure”.

 The main ideas which have underpinned the beginning of this project, emerged through dialogue with key partners in the sector, and was co-designed with NCVO, the sectorleading infrastructure organisation. This was done with 3 purposes in mind:

  • To provide real-time data and learning on how COVID-19 is impacting the whole sector and, significantly, how this varies across different organisations by size, structure and services offered.
  • To present lessons-learned reports regarding the impacts and responses to COVID-19 from organisations; particularly focusing on the new working-practices and innovations which can be scaled across the UK.
  • To put forward insights which it is envisioned will assist the long-term resilience of the entire VCSE sector.

 The project team brings together a unique alignment of researchers from across institutions and organisations specialising in the VCSE sector, HR and innovation; with the NCVO providing invaluable sector knowledge and expertise, guidance and access, through their research and policy team and 15,000 members. 

Expected outputs from this project include a VCSE vulnerability barometer, providing real-time data of the impact COVID-19 on the sector, lessons-learned reports, enabling innovations to be scaled, a final project report and toolkit for resilience. 


Project Team

Project lead:

Professor Daniel King


Research Team:

Sarah Smith

Nene Ibokessien

Noor Ali

David Dahill


Core Team Members:

Professor Helen Shipton

Will Rossiter

Professor Tracey Coule

NCVO:  –  Véronique Jochaum, Lisa Hornung, Keeva Rooney and Oliver Chan

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