IVR's vision and mission will be continuously developed alongside its partners

The most current iteration can be found in the boxes below

IVR works towards a world in which the power and energy of volunteering is well understood, where no one gets ‘used’, so that individuals can be confident and feel safe about their decisions to volunteer and policy decisions are made on solid evidence and scientifically robustly produced knowledge, involving at all stages experts by experience! 

  • IVR will support and undertake high quality volunteering research.
  • IVR will disseminate knowledge gained from its research in accessible formats for a range of audiences. 
  • IVR will support researchers in voluntary organisations and early career academic researchers with access to evidence and guidance.
  • IVR will build on its original work on Impact Assessment, co-producing a way to meaningfully measure the difference volunteering and volunteering research make.
  • What we do must be a little bit joyful. Enjoyment is the biggest motivator for ongoing volunteering and volunteering research. 
  • Nobody gets ‘used’. Every role and activity gets acknowledged and rewarded in some from, at a minimum by being thanked and provided with meaningful information and feedback.
  • We acknowledge power differences and unconscious biases. We cannot make them go away but we will address and seek to minimise them. 
  • We challenge ourselves and others to become better at being inclusive. This is a continuous activity. At a minimum this means we will always try and ensure that people are comfortable.

The possibilities of understanding volunteer involvement

Developing an understanding of volunteer involvement through research is academically fulfilling and impactful. It strengthens interdisciplinary, cross faculty and international research collaboration, underpinning the civic, inclusive and creative involvement of the academy.


It is estimated that globally over 850 million people from the age of 15 are involved in volunteering at least once a month. 70% of the population in the UK have been involved in volunteering over their lifetime, 20% are involved in any one month. Volunteer involvement annually might add over £200 billion of social value to the national income and is recognised for its role in strengthening people – state relationships and governance, offering the opportunity to address regional inequalities and need, as well as contributing directly to public and individual health in the UK.


Inclusively involving volunteers and volunteer involving organisations, mobilising different, not only epistemic, knowledges, volunteer involvement research can generate essential new data on health and social care, economic and social value, as well as on community cohesion, in addition to critically examining policy and practice, enhancing its instrumental and conceptual impact.


By connecting volunteers, volunteer involving organisations from the voluntary, public and private sectors, policy makers as well as health, social care and other professionals, volunteer involvement research can improve knowledges about the role of volunteer involvement in shaping public policies, improving voluntary and public bodies and their activities, making businesses more effective and helping to make society more inclusive.


The Institute for Volunteering Research was established in 1997 and over 25 years has built the foundations of ‘Critical Volunteer Involvement Research’, training a generation of academics and practitioners, engaging in critical academic and public debate, publishing major reports and books, while constantly providing evidence for organisational, regional, national and international policy makers and practitioners.

Institute for Volunteering Research

Constitution of the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR)

Strategic Priorities 2022 - 2024


IVR Advisory Panel

The IVR Advisory Panel strengthens the collaboration between UEA and the communities it is located in, to encourage the ongoing and increasing undertaking of high quality research into volunteering, and to help ensure that such research has a substantial and measurable impact on the people and organisations affected by volunteering.

IVR Advisory Panel - Terms of Reference

IVR Advisory Panel minutes from previous meetings:

28 September 2023
20 April 2023
24 March 2022
21 October 2021
22 July 2021
18 March 2021
8 October 2020
17 July 2020
30 April 2020
11 November 2019


IVR Delivery Group

IVR Delivery Group - Terms of Reference

IVR Delivery Group minutes from previous meetings:

10 July 2023
17 April 2023
23 January 2023
26 September 2022
13 July 2022
25 April 2022
24 January 2022
21 September 2021
13 July 2021
27 April 2021
12 January 2021
29 September 2020
30 June 2020
12 May 2020
12 February 2020
12 November 2019

IVR was first established in Volunteering England as a partnership with the University of East London in 1997. With the merger or Volunteering England and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), IVR became part of the research function of NCVO in 2013.

IVR was set up in response to the need for a dedicated body to undertake high quality research on volunteering contributing to policy and practice. The name ‘Institute for Volunteering Research’ is associated with research of the highest quality in this country and globally, and with evidence, knowledge and thinking that is widely trusted. This was confirmed in 2013, when Companies House under the section 1194 (1) under the Companies Act 2006 approved the use of the word Institute in IVR’s name. This approval was based on the written support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Cabinet Office, the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN), the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC), local infrastructure organisations, international networks and individual academics from a range of universities.

IVR had strong links with those who analyse and seek to influence government policy; those who lead and manage volunteer-involving organisations; and those who support and sustain their efforts at national and local levels. Through partnerships with University of East London, Birkbeck, University of London, and Northumbria University and its links with other universities IVR also drew on and contributed to developments in fundamental research and theory building about voluntary action. From this unique vantage point IVR was able to:

  • Inform policy and practice by developing insights and ‘usable theories’ drawn from the latest research and applying them to the issues and challenges faced by those working in the field of volunteering
  • Help to ensure that the research agenda and the development of volunteering as a field of study are shaped by the experience of practitioners and policy-makers and address their concerns.

In particular IVR:

  • Undertook commissioned research and evaluations for a variety of volunteer-involving organisations and those that support volunteering, across the voluntary, public and private sectors, such as the United Nations, European Commission, Home Office, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Health and Social Care, Department for International Development, Barclays Bank, BT, Orange, Crisis, Dimbleby Cancer Care, Marie Curie Cancer Care, National Trust and the Samaritans
  • Developed methodologies including practitioner-friendly ‘tool-kits’ for evaluation and published the Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit
  • Established a web-based evidence bank that provided open access to its reports and findings
  • Contributed to books, monographs, articles and working papers. including the book Volunteering and Society in the 21st Century, Volunteering and the Test of Time (anthology of articles from its journal Voluntary Action), an article on Volunteers who Manage Other Volunteers in Voluntary Sector Review, a chapter in Hybrid Organizations and the Third Sector (edited by David Billis) and a Working Paper on Definitions of Volunteering
  • Disseminated knowledge and understanding through lectures and presentations at a variety of academic and practitioner focused events.

In July 2019 IVR transferred from NCVO to UEA where its activities are currently funded until July 2024. IVR’s principal function is to support UEA’s endeavour to have significant societal and economic impact. It does so by connecting UEA researchers with communities of place and experience, in particular with volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations, around the globally recognised topic of volunteering. The 220 documents from IVR’s legacy evidence bank are now available ‘open access’ on the British Library Social Welfare Portal.

UEA is the first Higher Education Institution to base a research centre with such a topic in a health school, reflecting a paradigm shift from organisational and management studies to the understanding of the difference volunteering makes on individual and public health.

Presently, the Institute has one member of staff in the role of director who is supported by an Advisory Panel of 16 members.