Famine after the feast? Infrastructure organisations adapting to a changing funding world
Curtis, Andy (2014)

Andy Curtis, Institute for Volunteering Research, NCVO

The voluntary sector saw increasing levels of funding from government throughout the 2000s, peaking in 2010/11. With the economic downturn and subsequent public sector spending cuts, mainly coming into force in 2011, there was a drastic reduction in funding. Yet how seismic has this change really been? Those working in the sector will know examples of organisations, many long established, closing or merging, although it is difficult to assess systematically how widespread this has been. But how drastic are the funding cuts in the context of recent history?  The funding levels in 2011/12 were still higher than in 2005/06. So why this has seemingly caused so much damage is unclear. One reason may be that the cuts have disproportionately hit certain types of funding streams, therefore certain types of organisations.

This paper will focus on the change in funding for volunteering infrastructure (such as CVSs and volunteer centres). It will draw on research conducted as part of the Big Lottery Fund funded Volunteering for Stronger Communities programme. This three year research project (2012 – 2014) looks at how those involved in volunteering have been affected by the economic downturn and the interlinked public sector funding cuts. In addition, the paper will draw on data from the Annual Return of Volunteer Centres.

The paper will use volunteering infrastructure organisations as a case-study of voluntary sector organisations that have seemingly been disproportionately affected by funding cuts, considering whether they were sufficiently equipped to deal with the funding crisis and discuss future implications.


Andy is Senior Research Officer at IVR. He joined in 2012 and is working on the Big Lottery Fund research project Volunteering for Stronger Communities, a project looking at ex-offenders volunteering and the evaluation of Big Local’s early years. He has worked in research roles in the education and non-profit sectors for over ten years. Andy completed his PhD in 2007 at the University of Southampton. His thesis explored the concept of ‘social capital’ and its relationship with civic engagement.

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