Times Like These Voluntary Sector Conference 7 and 8 September Registration Open

'Times Like These': Researching civil society responses to and recovery from COVID-19

Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research e-Conference 2020

COVID-19 has caused exceptional upheaval and loss across the world. Complex changes to how people live, work and socialise have been implemented at unimaginable pace. The crisis has had massive ramifications for the voluntary sector and volunteering. With the exception of some high-profile successes, much fundraising activity has dried up, many voluntary organisations have seen their incomes plummet and are having to furlough staff and cut services, at a time when the need for their services has increased exponentially. Organisations have been working and collaborating in ways which did not previously seem possible. There has been an up swell of mutual aid and local community action in the immediate response to the crisis, while national calls for volunteers have led to huge numbers registering to offer help. Meanwhile, government support has been seen by many as slow and insufficient in scope and scale and debates about when 'recovery' will begin or what it will involve are only just getting started.

Wider long-term debates about the sector's responses to a wide set of social challenges, its position as an innovator and as a potential leader of social change, continue to play on against the backdrop of the lockdown and health crisis. Philanthropic responses to the outbreak and its consequences have already been both celebrated and critiqued – as society reengages with debates over the balance between welfare delivered by public or private means. And volunteering and mutual aid efforts have highlighted the emergence of longer-term issues around volunteer management, social capital, and community.

This year the Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference will run, in a much modified format, on 7 and 8 September 2020 as a free two-day e-conference. The focus will be on discussing current research and big ideas on civil society responses to and implications of COVID-19. Curated sessions on philanthropy, the voluntary organisations, volunteering and mutual aid, will be organised alongside plenary sessions. The aim is to bring together researchers and practitioners to explore what we've learned from this crisis, and what it means for the future of civil society.

Keynote speakers include Karl Wilding (NCVO), Anna Fowlie (SCVO), Brian Carr (BVSC), and Nasar Haghamed (Islamic World Relief), with more to be announced soon.

Programme summary

7 September 2020

1000-1100 Day one opening plenary session

1130-1300 Philanthropy, fundraising, funding and COVID-19

1400-1530 Mutual aid, communities and COVID-19

8 September 2020

1000-1100 Day two opening plenary panel of voluntary sector leaders

1130-1300 Volunteering and COVID-19

1400-1530 Voluntary and community organisations and COVID-19


The e-Conference will be held over zoom and will be free to join, but registration is essential. Further information on registration can be found



If you would like to discuss your research on one of the four panel sessions, please email us with 100-150 words outline what you might contribute to one of the four panel leads below:

- Philanthropy, fundraising, funding and COVID-19: Jon Dean and Carolyn Cordery (via:j.dean@shu.ac.uk)

- Mutual aid, communities and COVID-19: Chris Dayson and Veronique Jochum (via:c.dayson@shu.ac.uk)

- Volunteering and COVID-19: Angela Ellis Paine and Veronique Jochum (via:a.ellispaine@bham.ac.uk)

- Voluntary and community organisations and COVID-19: Jane Cullingworth and Sophie Wilson (via:janecullingworthvssn@gmail.com)

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