The English voluntary sector: How volunteering and policy climate perceptions matter

Jeremy Kendall, John Mohan, Nadia Brookes, Yeosun Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
192 Downloads (Pure)


This paper considers the situation of the English voluntary sector in relation to Austerity-driven social policies. Existing characterisations are outlined, and It is argued that the quantitative evidence used to represent the situation of these organisations to date has been partial, because it relies too narrowly on financial resource input measures. We argue that these organisations’ situation needs to be conceptualised in a more holistic way, and to initiate a move in this direction, identify and explicate two relevant dimensions: the perceived capacity of organisations to rely on volunteers for support (a non-financial resource input); and their perception of the effect of the policy climate in shaping their ability to flourish, including their ability to perform multiple roles beyond service provision alone. We draw on an original mixed methods empirical study undertaken in England in 2015 to operationalise these dimensions, combining qualitative interviews with national “policy community” members with a large scale on-line survey of social policy charities. We find a complex and variegated situation which, while acknowledging the fundamental importance of financial resource pressures, also points to the salience of the volunteering situation, and to the relevance of the challenging policy climate that these organisations have to navigate.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages55
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2018


  • voluntary sector
  • austerity policies
  • policy climate
  • campaigning and service provision
  • charities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration


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