The behaviour of voluntary organisations, and their willingness to be accountable, is a pressing policy issue around the world. In the UK, for example, legitimacy and public trust are under threat, due to a recent spate of high-profile voluntary sector crises and scandals, including concerns about large-scale and pervasive instances of financial mismanagement, intrusive and potentially harmful fundraising practices and the abuse of vulnerable beneficiaries. Concurrently, charity regulators are in a state of flux, dealing with declining or stagnating budgets and grappling with new strategic priorities to become data-led organisations. Understanding the nature, extent and impact of risk is therefore of considerable importance for the field, sector, public and policy practitioners.
This chapter reflects on the methodological implications and challenges associated with using regulatory data to study risk in the voluntary sector. In particular we describe collecting, operationalising and analysing the large-scale, often complex, administrative data held by regulators that are necessary to study this topic. Drawing on numerous examples from a multi-year programme of research on the UK charity sector, we outline both the promise and the perils for researchers embarking on their own research.
The nature of risk in the voluntary sector is broad, and derived from the panoply of operational areas and decisions inherent in running organisations: ‘Financial, personnel, programme and capital expenditure decisions all entail risk because they involve interactions with changing, complex, volatile or intrinsically stochastic economic, political and social environments’ (Young, 2009: 33).
|Title of host publication||Researching Voluntary Action|
|Subtitle of host publication||Innovations and Challenges|
|Editors||Jon Dean, Eddy Hogg|
|Number of pages||13|
|ISBN (Print)||9781447356684, 9781447356684|
|Publication status||Published - 21 Mar 2022|
- social research
- voluntary action