Mission statement

VSSN is an association whose members are engaged in research on the voluntary sector and volunteering, those who commission or support research and those who seek to apply research findings in their work.

VSSN is a registered charity: it is established for the advancement of public education concerning the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom in four ways as set out in the VSSN Constitution:

Strategic objects

The objects of VSSN are the advancement of public education concerning the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom by:

  1. the promotion and diffusion of knowledge; and
  2. the publication of research; and
  3. encouragement of contact between workers in relevant fields of enquiry; and
  4. undertaking such other activities (being charitable in law) as shall be conducive to the attainment of these objects.

The Steering Group (VSSN’s trustees) have issued this ‘Mission Statement’ to explain the focus and activities of the organisation in more detail:


The overall aim of VSSN is to advance the field of voluntary sector studies and bring together researchers and practitioners with an interest in this field. VSSN therefore aims to contribute to the support and development of this field as well as providing a means through which its members can exchange information; share experience; and come together for mutual support.

We believe that the study of the voluntary sector and volunteering is not only important in its own right as a field of intellectual enquiry but can also inform the development and implementation of a range of public policies and the management and leadership of voluntary organisations.

We accept a broad understanding of voluntary sector studies which is a multi-disciplinary field of study and encompasses a variety of related terms including the third sector, nonprofit/not-for-profit sector, and refers to a wide range of voluntary, community and civil society organisations. It can be understood as embracing research on:

  • the activities and behaviour of organisations which are neither part of the state nor driven by the imperatives of the market; and
  • the activities that benefit other individuals outside of individuals’ immediate household and family.

We pursue these aims by:

  • sponsoring a journal – the Voluntary Sector Review;
  • organising an annual research conference (in collaboration with NCVO and IVR) and other events;
  • providing face-to-face and virtual opportunities for interaction with other members;
  • promoting a better understanding of the voluntary sector and volunteering through research; and
  • providing a voice for those who are engaged in research in the field.


The values of VSSN underpin the networks ways of working and how we want our people to behave and interact. These values include being collaborative, inquisitive, supportive and inclusive.

  • We are collaborative – we look to build relationships by bring together a wide range of individuals and strengthen collaborations across our stakeholders
  • We are inquisitive – we are interested in promoting relevant and new insights from current research on the voluntary sector and volunteering
  • We are supportive – we offer support that aims to enable and encourage individuals
  • We are inclusive – we work in a way that is respectful, accessible and relational to facilitate individuals sharing their voice and encourage diversity

Read our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy.

About VSSN