State of the Social Sector Survey: Information and consent

Information and Consent

About the project:


This is a moment of rapid change for the whole of the sector, as the cost of living bites and energy prices rise. Government needs to understand what community groups and voluntary organisations are experiencing right now. By filling out this survey, you can help us to tell them.

This State of the Social Sector Survey is backed by all the major membership bodies, and carried out by the independent experts at Pro Bono Economics and Nottingham Trent University’s National VCSE Data and Insights Observatory. By completing the survey, you’ll be feeding your views directly into the government as it reviews which organisations will keep getting help with their energy, and makes further decisions on public spending in the Autumn.


About the Survey:

The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. It contains questions about your organisation’s finances, demand, volunteering and staff, as well as questions about energy costs and arrangements. The following offers general explanations on the survey itself. Further information regarding legal and ethical standards (including data management), can be found in the section near the bottom of this page.

Why have I been asked to participate?

You have been approached about this study because you work or volunteer for an organisation within the social/voluntary/civic/independent sector, and we are interested to hear your views as part of our research.

What will taking part involve?

You will be completing a survey through Qualtrics. We will ask you about the impact of the current crisis on your organisation and on the VCSE sector more broadly. By completing this survey and providing contact details, we will invite you to complete future surveys. However, you can choose whether to participate in those surveys or not. The emails will also be used to send you reports and outputs from the research and to follow up on the impact of the research on your organisation. Additionally, we may invite you to participate in further research related to this study, which you are not obliged to take part in. Your contact details will be destroyed at the end of the project.

Can I provide estimates?

Yes, we do not expect you to go to excessive lengths or spend an inordinate amount of time obtaining the information required. Informed estimates are sufficient for our needs, as we are seeking to measure changes across the sector using data aggregated from the information received from all organisations across our survey sample.

How long will I have to complete the survey?

The survey is designed to take between 15 – 30 mins to complete. However, there is no set time limit, though questions must be completed in one session, and all questions must be answered or the results will not be saved. Additional information about the business survey, including the closing date/time for each wave will be published on the survey landing page.

Why is completing this survey important? 

The only way to measure what is happening across all sections of the sector is to ask those who are directly part of it. Therefore, as an organisation and service provider, whether large, medium or small, the information you provide is important. By completing the survey, you’ll be feeding your views directly into decision makers on issues such as funding and public spending. It’s critically important that this data is received on the state of the sector, as it calculates where to target support going into the winter and the cost of living crisis.

What if I don’t feel I have any data to report?

Reporting no changes to your organisation is as valid as any other figure, as we are measuring trends across the sector.

Are there any risks of taking part?

There is minimal risk associated with taking part in this study. You will not be under any obligation to complete the monthly surveys and can withdraw at any time. We will delete any identifying information and the data will be anonymised before it is published. With any identifying data removed, the file format will be open source (CSV). The anonymised data will be publicly available, which means that it will be hosted on our website and archived in the UK Data Service for at least ten years in accordance with their best practice.

Do I have to take part?

Taking part in this research is voluntary. If you would prefer not to take part, you can stop completing the survey at any point. If you wish to withdraw after completing the survey, you can do so within 5 days by contacting [email protected] and a unique code which you will be given when you complete the survey. Please note that if you request to withdraw within 5 days, we will delete your contact details/identifiers and all your responses to the survey. If you wish to withdraw after five days, your contact details/identifiers will be deleted but we will retain the responses as it would have formed part of our analyses and publishable data.



Your data – our ethics, standards and obligations:

Please ensure you have read and understood the below before taking part in the survey

Invitation and Purpose

We are inviting you to take part in a research study exploring the cost of living crisis and it’s impact on the sector. In particular, we are interested in the way that the crisis has effected the way organisations operate, it’s impact on people paid staff and volunteers, and the possibilities for innovation and transformation as a result of the crisis.

The study is being conducted by Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with Pro Bono Economics. Please read the following information carefully before you decide whether or not to take part.

Legal Basis for Research Studies

The University undertakes research as part of its function for the community under its legal status. Data protection allows us to use personal data for research with appropriate safeguards in place under the legal basis of public tasks that are in the public interest.

All University research is reviewed to ensure that participants are treated appropriately and their rights respected. The ethical approval for this study has been recommended by Nottingham Trent University’s Schools of Business, Law and Social Sciences’ Research Ethics Committee. The study has received favourable ethical opinion from the committee. Further information can be found at:

What will happen to my data?

We will be collecting contact information such as email and organisational profile when you complete the survey. With your permission, we will use these contact details to send you information about the barometer, monthly draws, updates from the research and invite you to participate in future interviews and a panel survey connected to this research. We will also hold your email and organisational profile information in order to speed up the process and save you time in case of future survey submissions. This information will remain confidential and will not form part of the published and publicly available information. The research data will be anonymised and upon completion of the project will be deposited in the UK Data Service, which is an archive of research data. We will endeavour to remove all information that can directly identify you and your organisation prior to the data being deposited in the UK Data Service. Any anonymous data, which could not lead to the identification of either you or your organisation, including analysed data and survey answers, will be publicly available. This will allow anyone else (including researchers, businesses, governments, charities, and the general public) to use the anonymised data for any purpose that they wish, providing they credit the University and research team as the original creators.

At the conclusion of the study we would like to retain your contact email only, for the purposes of potentially following up with you regarding the impact that this research has had on your organisation. This contact email will be held separate from any other information held about you or your organisation or any other response you have given in the barometer.

How will my confidentiality be protected?

The data will be fully anonymised, assigned a unique code and stored in a secure data store and only members of the research team will have access to the data during the project. Your completed survey will be used in the outputs from this research, but any identifying information regarding you, your organisation or any other identifiable data will be deleted before it published. Confidentiality will only be broken in circumstances where the researcher is concerned that there is a risk of harm to you or someone else. In this instance the researcher must report this information to the relevant agency that can provide assistance.

How will the data be used?

We will use data from this survey to inform our final reports – which will be publicly available – as well as presentations and academic publications.

Who can I contact if I have any questions or concerns about the study?

This study is led by Professor Daniel King. You are welcome to contact: [email protected] (0115 8482694) if you have any queries about this project.

Should you wish to discuss the project and/or your participation with anyone other than the research team, please contact: Alistair Bruce, Associate Dean of Research [email protected] (0115 848 6867)