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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Tony Chapman

Chapman, Tony & Robinson, Fred (2014). Third Sector Trends in North East England and Cumbria: headline trends 2008-2014. Newcastle upon Tyne, Northern Rock Foundation.

Author(s) from Durham


This report presents preliminary findings from the 2014 Third Sector Trends survey.
Its purpose is to begin an exploration of trends from 2008-2014 by providing
headline results. Further reports will follow in 2015 with more in-depth analysis of
the data.
As we have built up evidence over many years, we have become more able to
deliver forthright messages about the structure, dynamics and mood of the Third
Sector. And yet, some people tell us that our findings ‘don’t ring true’. In other
words, we have said things that challenge or even contradict the ‘conventional
wisdom’ about what life is like in the Third Sector. It is important, therefore, to make
some comments about the validity of the data which are being used.
When we were commissioned to do this research, which began in 2008, we were
asked to do a ‘root and branch’ study of the Third Sector. It was agreed that we
should not position ourselves as ‘advocates’ for the sector – but rather we were set
the task of producing as ‘objective’ a view of the situation as possible.
In the Third Sector Trends study (TST) questionnaires, we have been careful not to
ask questions which will produce stock responses.
And we have also been careful to
ask about the same issues in different ways to check whether or not the findings are
consistent and reliable. Reliability and consistency are different things.