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How we are funded

How we are funded

Core Funding


What makes us distinctive is our core funding. It enables us to maintain our independence and neutrality. It gives us the freedom to act as a critical friend, at the interface between front line voluntary organisations and their funders. And it allows us to initiate work in complex or neglected areas. Our work would not be possible without the support of our current core funders:


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Research Development Fund


Each year, trustees set aside a small fund so that we are able to initiate projects in response to needs we hear about from voluntary organisations and their funders. Previous Research Development Fund projects include:



We sometimes use the Research Development Fund to partner with foundations – Project crowd fund – to develop specific research projects, usually around neglected or complex areas.

Commissions & Tenders


This type of work ranges from large-scale national programmes through to work with individual, grassroots organisations. A lot of this work is repeat work from organisations that we have previously worked with, or comes through individual recommendations and referrals. Most of the time, our decision about whether to take on a new project is based on our assessment of whether it will be:


  • Relevant and likely to benefit voluntary organisations
  • Possible to work collaboratively and share the findings with others
  • A good fit with our skills and interests


We don’t always follow our own rules so do talk to us about a project, an idea or a problem even if it doesn’t fall neatly into our criteria.


Our current list of live projects can be found here.

Find research projects by theme.

Match Funding


Using the Research Development Fund we can become a funding partner in a research project with an active stake in design, delivery and dissemination. This kind of approach creates opportunities for greater flexibility, particularly around dissemination where, without artificial deadlines, we are able to share emerging findings. It also means that outputs are more grounded in the experience of the people directly affected by the topic we are researching.


Current projects funded this way are the Charities and Social Investment Study and Place-based funding approaches.

Evaluation Roundtable


The UK Evaluation Roundtable is a network of around 50 foundation evaluation leaders in the UK, who seek to improve the way in which foundations learn about the results of their grant-making and increase the impact of their work. It is a joint initiative between IVAR and the Center for Evaluation Innovation in the U.S.


Members of the Roundtable help to fund the research, convenings and other activities of the network.


UK Evaluation Roundtable – find out more.