National VCS Research

The following links are to portals and sites that contain research information for and about the VCS. You can also find some local research in our document library.

Community Life Survey

The Community Life Survey is held annually to track trends and developments in areas that encourage social action and empower communities.

The Cabinet Office commissioned the first Community Life Survey in 2012 to look at the latest trends in areas such as volunteering, charitable giving, local action and networks and well-being. The aim of the survey is to provide cost-effective data of value to government, external stakeholders and citizens

Find out more and download results here.

NCVO Almanac

The UK Civil Society Almanac, published annually by NCVO, is the definitive publication on the state of the voluntary sector. Widely cited by the media, it is used extensively by sector leaders, policymakers, journalists and academics.

This is the first year they have entered into a data-sharing partnership with CharityJob to be able to share salary insights on the sector.

Read more data from the 2023 Almanac here.

VCSE Barometer Survey

The VCSE Barometer is developed and delivered by Nottingham Trent University’s VCSE Data and Insights National Observatory in partnership with Pro Bono Economics.  It is supported by the major UK national VCSE infrastructure organisations and membership bodies.


Third Sector Trends began in 2008 and is the longest running study of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in the UK. The study, which takes place every three years, covers England and Wales – receiving over 4,000 responses in 2019. The survey received 6,070 responses in 2022, 1,263 of which arrived with the help of many local CVSs and charitable trusts and foundations across England and Wales. In East of England, there were 580 responses in 2022 and it is hoped that the sample can be increased further in 2025 now that closer relationships have been developed in the region, especially in Cambridgeshire and Essex.
The study was established to look at resources, purpose, practices and impact of the Third Sector from an independent and as far as possible, an ‘objective’ point of view. As such, the study collects and analyses quantitative and qualitative data to explore issues of interest to government, local public sector and health organisations, the private sector, grant making foundations, Third Sector infrastructure organisations at national and local levels and, of course, individual TSOs.
The study is designed to complement Charity Commission, NCVO Civil Society Almanac and 360Giving data to produce robust estimates on employment, volunteering, sector finance and assets. The study then looks at how the ‘energy’ the sector has at its disposal is applied to local causes. Even though this is a large-scale study, its purpose is to study the structure, dynamics and impact of the ‘local’ VCSE sector. Only by looking at several areas, is it possible to understand individual localities properly.
All reports from Third Sector Trends can be found at this website. Voluntary Third-Sector Trends | Community Foundation
News stories on individual reports can be found here: Research News Archives – St Chad’s College Durham (