Displaying items by tag: international

By John Micklewright and Sylke V. Schnepf, University of Southampton

Donations to overseas charities are an important source of funding for development assistance from rich industrialised countries. But little is known about the nature of these donations. The literature on charitable giving focuses on total donations to all causes and does not identify separately the pattern or the determinants of giving by cause. We investigate giving to overseas causes using UK household survey microdata that record donations to different types of charity. First, we analyse the clustering of giving to different causes taking also gender differences into account. In a second step, we examine the association of giving to development with socio-economic background, including education and income. Thirdly, we investigate whether people giving to overseas causes differ in their characteristics from people donating to other causes. The analysis distinguishes between the decision to give at all and the amounts that are given.

By Dr Ingo Bode, University of Edinburgh

So much has now been written on civil society, its evolution and its role in modern life – yet, recent debate in Britain about both the hot issue of political independence and the tricky economic role of voluntary organisations illustrate that we still are in a theoretical mess. One reason for this, the submitted paper argues, lies in shortcomings of the Anglo-Saxon tradition of making sense of civil society. In this tradition, the voluntary, or 'Third', sector has often been conceptualized by using dichotomic distinctions between state and civil society on the one hand, and between associational and economic agency on the other hand. However, when it comes to understanding the role of voluntary organizations in contemporary Western society (irrespective of national traditions), this conceptualization presents some drawbacks. In particular, it ignores those interfaces which constitute, and reproduce, civic agency within organisations operating beyond state and market. On the one hand, it downplays the entanglement of civic actors with various departments of the modern state. On the other hand, it obliterates the economic character of much civic action in contemporary society, including where this character has now become acknowledged tentatively (like in Britain). The 'German tradition' of grasping both the relation between state and civil society and interlinkages of civic and economic rationales in 'Third sector' activities can help overcome some of the Anglo-Saxon limitations. It enlightens the interfaces between civic activities, statutory action and socio-economic agency – and, in particular, it allows to think these spheres of action as highly interconnected. Somewhat paradoxically, it is precisely through this interconnection – rather through an opposition to the state and an abnegation of economic functions – that 'organized' civil society has become a societal force on its own – not just in Germany, but throughout major European societies.

Ingo's presentation is available here  (Powerpoint).

By Ken Ashford (former Charity Commission)

Over the past 20 years the UK has developed a model for accounting and reporting by charities which has proved to be robust and useful. The model has been pioneered mainly by accountants who were dissatisfied with applying the business model of accounting to charities but they have been assisted by pressures for more and better accountability and transparency. The UK regime has been based on adaptations of UK accounting standards (UK GAAP) which have been made possible because of the UK's accounting standards board practice of introducing industry interpretations of standards.

The main driver for a UK charity reporting regime has been that business standards of accounting do not fit charities. The same problem arises worldwide, but there are currently (apparently) no generally accepted global mechanisms to allow the preparation and acceptance of specialist NGO standards.  This is especially true of the new International Accountancy Standards which are entirely based on profit seeking entities.  There have been some suggested accountability frameworks, each of which seems consistent with, but not as comprehensive as the UK model.

It would be extremely presumptuous for the UK to suggest that our standards of reporting should be applied worldwide (a new form of colonialism?).  However is it possible that the approach to accountability that our model encompasses, could be moulded (by one or more international forums) into a global protocol which would for the basis for future NGO accounting principles and standards developed by national bodies? 

The paper puts together the key elements of this argument and provides a tentative first draft of a global protocol.

By Hans Schlappa, Aston University

This paper builds on the empirical data collected through a doctoral study which examined the implementation of European policy in the context of urban renewal initiatives. The paper argues that public agencies have considerable room to manoeuvre in choosing their approach towards involving third sector organisations (TSOs) in the delivery of European Union funded urban renewal initiatives, and that a commissioning approach towards the delivery of such programmes limits the scope for TSOs to contribute to the inclusion of marginalised communities. 

The findings reported here are based on a cross-national case study which analysed the work of nine TSOs delivering URBAN II funded initiatives in three European cities: Berlin, Belfast and Bristol. The data were collected through in depth case studies of nine TSOs, and included 44 semi-structured interviews with staff from TSOs and public agencies responsible for the local delivery of the URBAN II programme.

TSOs have a substantial profile in current European policy (Commission of the European Communities, 2005, 2006, 2006a) and their important contribution towards social inclusion in the renewal of deprived urban neighbourhoods is increasingly recognized (EuroCities and Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik, 2007). The paper puts forward the argument that a commissioning approach based on a paradigm of social enterprise (Evers and Laville, 2004; Nyssens, 2006) limits the ability of TSOs to define for themselves who should be targeted and how such groups could be engaged. This tends to reduce the capacity of TSOs to bring about social inclusion, and in addition, such an approach undermines the development of sustainable civil society structures which are critically important to engender social cohesion (Taylor et al., 2007). Public agencies responsible for the local delivery of European Union funded urban regeneration initiatives therefore need to be made aware of these implications, and receive support in developing approaches which enable TSOs to contribute towards social inclusion and social cohesion in European cities.

Before coming to the UK in the mid 1980s, Hans obtained a degree in town and country planning at the Technische Universität Berlin in which he focused on resident involvement in the urban renewal process. Since then he has worked for third sector as well as public sector organisations leading on the delivery of urban renewal initiatives in a number of cities in England. In 2001 he took his masters degree in public services management at Aston Business School and took up the post of Research Manager for the Aston Centre for Voluntary Action Research in 2004. He is currently working on a part time basis for the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University while writing up his PhD thesis on the impact of European Union funding on third sector organisations.


Commission of the European Communities (2005) Working Together for Growth and Jobs: A new start for the Lisbon strategy, COM (2005) 24. Commission of the European Communities, Brussels
Commission of the European Communities (2006) Regions for Economic Change, Communication from the Commission (COM(2006)675 final), Brussels
Commission of the European Communities (2006a) Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion: A new partnership for cohesion, convergence and competitiveness, Brussels
EuroCities, Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (2007) Leipzig Memo. Proceeding of a conference organised jointly by Euro Cities and the Deutsches Institut für Urbanistic, Leipzig
Evers A, Laville JL, eds (2004) The Third Sector in Europe. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham
Nyssens M, ed (2006) Social Enterprise: At the Crossroads of Market, Public Policies and Civil Society. Routledge, London
Taylor M, Wilson M, Purdue D, Wilde P (2007) Changing Neighbourhoods: Lessons from the JRF Neighbourhood Programme. Policy Press, Bristol

Hans' presentation is available here  (Powerpoint format).

by Jo Howard and John Lever, University of the West of England

Much has been written about the move from government to governance in the UK and its implications for the third sector. But while the trend towards governance, partnership working and community participation is a global phenomenon, is the third sector experience of this trend similar in other parts of the world? Does it pose the same dilemmas and what can be learnt by comparing experience across different countries? In 2005, we began a research project which aimed to address this question, to explore the ways in which trends towards governance play out in different regions with different political and civil society traditions and to explore the ways in which third sector organisations at local level experience and 'navigate the tensions' of working in these spaces – the countries in question are Bulgaria, Nicaragua, England and Wales. The research has centred on four localities – one is each country.

Carrying out this research has posed dilemmas of its own. How can we arrive at common understandings of governance across very different settings? What resonance do concepts of voice, accountability and autonomy have in the different countries? Is it possible to develop a meaningful dialogue between the countries on these issues and what are the important commonalities and differences? This paper will explore some of the dilemmas of working in this way and reflect on the meaning and significance of the concepts we have been exploring in the light of our initial findings.

The team carrying out this work consists of Marilyn Taylor, Chris Miller, Jo Howard, John Lever and Vicki Howard of the University of the West of England in the UK, Luis Serra Vasquez of the University of Centre America in Nicaragua and Rumen Petrov and Antaoneeta Mateeva of the New Bulgarian University in Sofia. 

Jo and John's presentation is available here  (Powerpoint format).

by Martha Caddell and Rosemarie McIlwhan, Open University in Scotland

Internships are a relatively new – and growing – phenomenon within third sector organisations. Such opportunities potentially provide a bridge between volunteering activity and professional paid employment in an organisation’s portfolio of posts and offer new pathways for encouraging engagement in third sector activity. With this growth in internships comes a need for the sector to pause and reflect on the practice and consider if, and how, internships can be made to work in line with the ethics as well as the economics of the sector.

In the current context of growing graduate un- and under-employment, renewed focus is being directed to the role of internships as mechanisms for gaining work experience and securing routes in to permanent jobs. Yet internships are also increasing in their notoriety for being unpaid, leading to a new elitism where only those who can afford to can gain the experience necessary to access certain professions. In addition, in the context of the economic downturn and associated job cuts, there is a growing risk that interns are taking on tasks that should be performed by paid employees.

The increasing use of internships by third sector organisations raises critical questions about the balance between voluntarism and professionalism in the sector. Should paid internships in the voluntary sector be encouraged as a means of attracting new skills and experience into the sector, or should such contributions remain ‘voluntary’ and unpaid? How should internships be established that are both ethical and legal as well as being of genuine mutual benefit to the intern and voluntary organisation?

This paper draws on action research being conducted alongside the development of the Third Sector Internships Scotland programme, a collaborative effort involving Scottish universities and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. The paper argues that paid internships can offer considerable benefits for students and for voluntary organisations. However, there is a need for greater appreciation of the skills and support needs of both interns and third sector organisations if such initiatives are to fulfil their potential. The paper draws on case studies from the TSI Scotland programme and situates these within current policy debates to argue for a more strategic consideration of the place of internships as a new form of engagement with the voluntary sector.

by Mariana Bogdanova

Commentators on the role of NGO and civil society have been concerned with contextualisation, interdependence, and recognition of diversity between systems governing the development of the third sector. The themes' relevance to the East-West third sector partnerships and knowledge exchange in its transformational capacity. This is an opportunity for theory-building and re-conceptualisation of the sector in its beneficial capacity. Building on case study research on a Bulgarian NGO partnership with a UK based organisation conducted in 2004, the presentation is an account of the ongoing research into theory development on cross-organisational partnership. An initial “organisational mentoring” perspective in NGO relations between one experienced Western and one developing Eastern European environmental organisation has been revised to accommodate the diversity of organisational learning practices found in the continuing case research. These have implications for the selection of partners and managing the relationship between Western and East European actors.

The research is in data analysis stage following the field work in the summers of 2008/2009 in four Bulgarian NGOs selected for their respective partner arrangements with Western organisations and/or network membership. In the tradition of grounded theory approach and case study method, the collected qualitative data (interviews, text, and observations) are presented here to flesh out relevant themes to understanding the actors' knowledge and learning perspectives and practices. The findings presented here address the research questions on the nature of organisational identity, their learning and knowledge-sharing practices and relevant institutional contexts to how NGOs sustain their practices. The focus is on the relevance of partnerships and networking with Western organisations to the NGOs' development and functioning in the local context.

Mariana Bogdanova's paper is available here (Powerpoint format).

by Karen Smith

Volunteer management is increasingly being recognised, in the UK and internationally, as a profession requiring distinct and varied skills. Recent research in New Zealand (Smith et al., 2010) has profiled managers of volunteers. The findings mirrored those from the UK (Machin and Ellis Paine, 2008; Brewis et al., 2010) of experienced managers, a diversity of job titles and responsibilities, and multiple routes into volunteer management. This paper reports on a qualitative study using life and work histories to explore the career paths of paid volunteer managers. 27 individuals from the health and tourism sectors were interviewed. Participants made a positive choice to work in the voluntary sector and organisations (and in some cases the public sector). However, volunteer management was also a career that respondents had fallen into. Pathways into volunteer management included moving from volunteer to paid positions with a voluntary organisation, and a late-career change. Participants faced a lack of understanding and recognition of the volunteer manager role, internally within the organisations as well as externally by the sector and community. The voluntary sector can offer work-life balance, particularly through part-time and flexible working practices; conversely, volunteer management is a role with weak boundaries between work and non-work life and time. The paper considers the implications for the voluntary sector for promoting volunteer management as a career, and the support, professional development and recognition of volunteer managers and management.

Karen Smith's presentation is available here  (Powerpoint format).


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