, 21 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Alors, je vous présente… our findings about (1) what academic #research already exists about UK charities & #philanthropy and (2) the topics on which UK charities & donors say that they would like more academic #research.

#charity #impact #eval #impinv
2/ Combined, the results are a ‘gap analysis’ which can inform future research. Both studies were funded by @Charity_Futures, re its work establishing an Institute of Charity at Oxford University. But the findings can inform the agenda of any researchers in this terrain.
4/ The biggest finding was probably how disengaged charities and donors are from academic research.

Half of our survey respondents said that they use academic journal articles ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’.
5/ That resonates with my personal experience, of now >17 years in this sector, in which the no. times I’ve heard people refer to academic studies not by their own orgs is super-small.
6/ There were many requests for things that already exist, eg. evaluations of specific organisations, & research methods e.g. to see the impact of interventions in people’s complex lives. -> It'd be useful to have training and wider sharing of existing material and methods.
7/ I’ll go through first the findings on ‘supply’, and then ‘demand’.
Supply is small. We looked at (a) studies conducted anywhere, which include data about UK charities and/or giving, and (b)studies by the UK specialist centres, both since 2006.
8/ We didn’t include studies of interventions (e.g., to reduce violence) but did include research about management practices in charities/donors, e.g., contract negotiation, HR.
9/ We found 184 relevant studies in total. That includes 109 journal articles, and 83 academic studies produced by the UK academic centres, plus some ‘grey literature’.
That smallness is striking but no criticism of anybody. It’s probably a function of funding.
10/ Most (87) studies are observational, describing charity and philanthropy.
Many studies *address* issues about effectiveness (e.g, collaboration, governance modes). But few use methods capable of providing rigorous answers: we found only 7 RCTs and 7 systematic reviews.
11/ {That may also reflect funding / funders’ priorities.}

Most studies look at phenomena / behaviour unique to these sectors, eg., #fundraising and managing volunteers. There’s an opportunity to ‘translate’ some of the wider #management lit for use by charities and donors.
12/ The literature on charities and philanthropy is thinly spread and badly coded. Of the 110 journal studies that we found, 47 used no keywords at all (which makes it very hard for anybody to find them). The other 63 studies used 232 keywords, of which 204 were only used once.
13/ To investigate demand, we used a variant of the process developed in medical / health for consulting with patients and their carers about their priorities for medical research. (HT @iainchalmersTTi & @LindAlliance) First time it had been used outside medicine/health.
14/ It was an open public process, which took 15 months. @Katherinecowan who ran it is a rock star.
15/ Demand is dominated by Qs about impact. We’d taken fundraising off the table (since nobody’s failed to notice it) so these impact Qs maybe f/r Qs in disguise, but still. The 24 top priority Qs are mainly about understanding / increasing / measuring / communicating impact.
(crikey: this is like writing a novel on a thread...)
16/ Charities want more research about donor effectiveness. (I smiled, having written in @Nature calling for more of that: giving-evidence.com/nature) They want to know what donor practices are effective, and whether all that reporting etc. helps anybody. (So do I!)
17/ Surprisingly few Qs concerned running the charity / internal issues: most Qs are abt comms with outsiders, notably funders. Governance only occupied two questions. Diversity & inclusion featured only wrt how to increase it, not whether/when increasing it affects outcomes.
18/ In sum: (a) these projects highlight some important areas for work: possibly by you!
(b) the consultation method could be used in many areas where charities & funders work.
(c) if you’re interested in collaborating on any of this, pls get in touch.
19/ We also hope we've shown that it's possible and useful to consult with the intended users/beneficiaries of research. In many areas in which charities operate, we need more research (eg., homelessness, domestic violence…) and so...
20/ the question immediately arises of which topics to prioritise.
The method that we have used here could be used much more broadly – and we are happy to discuss that.
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