I'm currently in the middle of writing an article on the recession and the voluntary sector, which I hope might get accepted in the new VSSN journal...and on the prompt of a certain webmaster I thought I would share with you my perspectives on the issue.
It is of course de rigeur to write about the impact of the recession if you are a researcher in an infrastructure body, and woe betide anybody who does not conclude everything is very bad indeed and getting worse. But I tend not to hold this view, and as a result I've been told to go back to my drawing board so many times that I now feel more like a draughtsman than a researcher. One of the particular problems that we've all faced as researchers is how to satisfy those looking for binary responses that actually the picture is pretty mixed. To my recollection, there isnt much evidence of hundreds of voluntary organisations falling off metaphorical (not to mention cliched) cliffs. But its equally the case that we are starting to see more anecdotal evidence of difficulties, even if some of these 'difficulties' (such as cutting staff numbers) are in the fact pre-emptive strikes that are the signs of effective nonprofit management.
As I recently blogged on NCVO's simply wonderful new social website
, your own perception of the impact of the recession on the sector might reflect whether you interpret the latest research with optimism or otherwise: a £1.3billion drop in charitable giving
is unarguably a big number, but the optimists amongst you will highlight that this still means the public gave 90p this year for every £1 they gave last year. Amidst what has been argued as the worst recession in post-war history, you may well in fact be feeling that this is a good result. Those of the latter view might further point out that Comic Relief has had its best ever fundraising year. (By the way, I always like to make a note of these "exceptions to the rule" on the basis that they prove our research simply has to be correct...)
You of course might conclude that it doesnt really matter anyway because some researchers from NIESR have told us that the recession is over. Probably. Or at least it will be by next tuesday. Ultimately, it's times like these that issues of tone and interpretation seem to take more precedence than serious discussion of the research findings. On reflection though, the problem is that times are always like these.
One of the things I'm therefore really looking forward to with the new VSSN journal is that it will provide further opportunity to deliberate these and other research findings without fear of instant retribution and shaming via blog. The latter can be reserved for posts like this one...