The analysis reported here, undertaken collaboratively between the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the University of Kent (SSPSSSR and PSSRU) in the UK, builds upon the ‘barriers to impact’ component of the EU Third Sector Impact (TSI) study led by the University of Kent. By combining data holdings at TSRC with results from the TSI online survey of social policy charities, which asked a number of questions about organisations perceptions of their ability to access resources, obstacles to their development, relationships with external bodies, and views about the external policy and regulatory environment, this briefing seeks to move towards a more nuanced account of the barriers to achieving impact these organisations face, paying particular attention to diversity and difference within the sector.

It finds that

  • Particularly larger organisations expressed concerns, sometimes strongly, about the negative impact of reductions in public expenditure, particularly from local government sources, while differences of view were less evident according to policy subfield (ICNPO).
  • Concerns about resource constraints, ability to balance functions (service provision, community development and campaigning), and marketization tended to be expressed most strongly by organisations situated geographically in disadvantaged areas.
  • Organisations of recent origin were more likely to express greatest concerns about their position. In contrast long-established organisations – those that had been on the Register of Charities since before the 1980s – were much less likely to report experiencing ‘barriers’ so extensively.
  • Regression analyses confirmed that the strongest predictors of concerns about resource shortages and the future financial environment were most likely to be expressed by organisations in disadvantaged areas; and organisations which had been established relatively recently.

Make sure to read the full policy briefing, which is available for download below. The first TSI UK Policy Brief includes a generalised overview of the English third sector’s situation in relation perceived barriers to impact.