Research Papers

Since its foundation ten years ago, Cass CCE has been committed to transferring knowledge within the nonprofit sector to enable organisations and individuals to thrive.

Below, you can find Articles, Research and Thought Pieces that have been produced by a wide range of people over this period. Please note that the views expressed in these papers do not necessarily represent the view of Cass CCE.

Thought Piece Archive

The below features our archive of Thought Pieces from Cass CCE consultants past and present.

If the themes in these Thought Pieces resonate with your experience and that of your organisation, please get in touch.  Our team of consultants can offer support and practical help. Find out more about our full range of our Advisory Services.

Collaborations and mergers

August 2013: Trust - the glue in effective collaborations

Julian Powe, Associate Consultant for Cass CCE, explores some important concepts around trust in collaborative working. He offers five frames and five action areas to support leaders in developing and sustaining the high levels of trust needed in such ventures.

April 2012: On board the merger bus

Mergers are not for the faint-hearted, but neither are they necessarily to be avoided. In this month's thought piece, Dr Mary Chadwick, Principal Consultant for Cass CCE, discusses some of the external influences that are driving the merger bus, and suggests that organisations should fully understand that both why and the how of a merger decision are critical to ensuring a successful outcome.


March 2012: To practise what we preach

Andrew Forrest, Visiting Fellow of Cass Business School and a Principal Consultant with Cass CCE, explores the creation and use of values within the nonprofit sector. Drawing on the recent working paper, To practise what we preach, produced by Cass CCE, Andrew lays out several examples of when, where and how values are used effectively. The article continues to offer some practical considerations and ways forward.

You can do an online course about organisational values based on this report on KnowHow NonProfit. Organisational values: how to practice what we preach StudyZone course.

October 2011: Towards a Team at the Top

Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard highlight how governance is changing in the third sector as tougher commissioning practice takes hold, and the consequences of cuts to funding become more keenly felt. This thought piece underlines the contribution that different forms of joint working with Boards have to offer. A 600 word case study is included showing how Barnet Citizen's Advice Bureau (30 staff, 110 volunteers, 9 Trustees) have put this into practice. The article encourages third sector organisations to experiment with different ways of putting joint working into practice.

October 2010: High impact, low cost, chair and trustee development

Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard look at trustee training and development needs, based on the proposition that boards have a duty to lead through governance. First published in Caritas.

June 2010: First Among Equals

Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard reviewed the contribution of the chair of trustees and the need for succession planning for this pivotal role. This article was first published in Caritas, April 2010.

Managing people

July 2012: Containment - finding the psychological space for change

James Barrett, Principal Consultant for Cass CCE, explores the fascinating topic of how can leaders create the right psychological environment in these difficult times, so staff can rise to the challenge of rapid change. He highlights the groundbreaking work of Isabel Menzies Lyth and investigates how its implications are highly relevant and can be applied to the modern nonprofit sector.

May 2011: Get the most from your assets

Performance management should be aligned with your charities objectives and be championed from the top, say Hilary Barnard, Ruth Lesirge and Fiona Ash. Times are hard in the nonprofit sector. The shortage of funding has brought uncertainty and streamlining of national and regional structures. There is a demand to achieve more for less, as well as an expectation that organisations will find cheap innovative solutions and restructuring as part of their coping strategy. Organisations have to grasp new agendas quickly, make difficult decisions about which activities or services to maintain and protect and manage with fewer and even tighter contracts. This article was published in Caritas in April 2011

The sector

September 2011: Whose Localism?

Hilary Barnard offers his personal view of the consequences of Government Localism and the Localism Bill for third sector organisations. He advocates engagement with policy makers and opinion formers that works to retain the best of national frameworks and standards whilst enabling local initiative of third sector organisations and their partners to meet local need.

November 2010: Big Society, cuts and consequences: a thinkpiece

Hilary Barnard addresses decision makers and opinion formers in public policy and in the third sector, seeking to debate the aspirations attached to the Big Society in terms of the unintended or inadequately foreseen consequences of public expenditure cuts.

April 2010: "When the dust settles after the election, Government must have a clear strategy and plan for the Voluntary Sector"

Paul Palmer, Associate Dean and Director of the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, Cass Business School, shares his thinking around priorities.

Articles Archive (2006-2010)

The below features our archive of articles from Cass CCE’s early Newsletters. Please note that the views expressed in these papers do not necessarily represent the view of Cass CCE. 

If the themes in these Thought Pieces resonate with your experience and that of your organisation, please get in touch. Our team of consultants can offer support and practical help. Find out more about our the full range of our Advisory Services.


September 2009: Boards that really work!

Good Governance is always effective, not just in a crisis.

September 2009: The Founder Effect

The power and the perils of a founder's legacy.

February 2008: Improving the performance of the Top Team

One of the key tasks of the chief executive is to build an effective top team that will provide corporate leadership and will ensure the team's decisions are implemented throughout the organisation. In this article, George Levvy examines top team performance, the obstacles faced in team development and how these can be overcome.

February 2007: Governance: It's not the "what", it's the "how"

Julia Lever looks at some of the sector's Governance challenges and discusses how the Centre addresses them with Ruth Lesirge, Visiting Fellow and Head of the Governance Practice within the Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

Strategic thinking

March 2010: The real value of strategic thinking

An examination of the importance of long-term strategic planning, particularly in the current economic climate.

July 2009: Like strategy for the very first time

To survive and emerge stronger from the current economic climate requires a clear, robust and flexible strategy owned by all those involved in its implementation.

Funding and income

May 2010: Income from investment falls

An overview of research into the impact of the economic downturn on income from investments.

July 2009: Recession challenges

Cathy Pharoah and Jenny Harrow examine the impact of the recession on sector finances and the demands and choices facing fundraising charities.

February 2009: Resisting recession

Some of the ways in which various organisations are working hard to protect existing revenue streams and develop new ones

December 2008: Recession and charities

The paradoxes of managing in a recession

November 2007: The business of giving: What is the aim of grantmaking?

In most cases, it is to perform a social function or bring about a change in social conditions.

April 2007: Charities thinking about social enterprise: is it a good idea?

Jean Barclay's guide for charities considering social enterprise activities.

Managing people

September 2009: "You sort of smell it... that engagement of people."

Quoting Lord David Currie, Fiona Ash guides us towards productive employee engagement.

April 2009: Restructuring in the recession

Insights into effective and thought-through restructuring.

April 2009: Coaching works

A a group of Cass CCE consultants describe a range of coaching interventions and their individual and organisational impact.

February 2009: Coaching and mentoring

The role and experience of coaching and mentoring.

October 2008: A volunteer's perspective?

How often do we consciously seek feedback from our volunteers on their experience of volunteering in our organisation? Do our HR policies and practices adequately include our unremunerated human resource?

June 2008: Gap Years for Oldies

Looking at a growing trend for mangers from the commercial sector to take sabbaticals to 'do something more meaningful'.

June 2007: Mentoring - a new-fangled fad or a really useful intervention?

Mentoring has been in the news of late, in the public, third and commercial sectors. What is it? Is it really coaching by another name? Is it any use?

April 2007: Is your training effective? Impact evaluation - the Carousel of Development

Andrew Forrest examines the Carousel of Development, an evaluation model developed for the Work Foundation, which he believes has overcome the shortcomings of other models of evaluation.

Other topics

Philanthropists as Change-makers

November 2013: Seminar Report: Summary and Speakers' Notes
The seminar devised by Robert Dufton, Senior Visiting Fellow Cass CCE, forms part of 'Philanthropy: The City Story', a City Philanthropy initiative which aims to promote and encourage a culture of philanthropy in London, and is also part of the Economic and Social Research Council's festival to engage the public with social science.

September 2009: Searching for Knowledge?
Making knowledge accessible.

April 2009: Walk in my shoes with the Outward Bound Trust
Chief Executive's description of an initiative with direct performance impact.

October 2008: Working in the Cracks: Fractures or Wellbeing

June 2008: The making of a social enterprise called MyBnk

June 2008: The assumption trap

Our work

February 2008: Evaluating our impact - reflections from the Consultancy Practice
One of the most important things we do in the way we work with our clients is to reflect regularly during projects whether we are achieving the impact that we planned at the beginning.

February 2007: Progress and Plans towards enhancing performance and developing talent across the third sector
Julia Lever talks to Denise Fellows about how the Centre is delivering its mission to increase the effectiveness and achievement of voluntary and community organisations. Denise is Head of Consultancy and Training Services within the Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

Research Papers (2006-2013)

Funding and income

A staged research process began in 2008, with field research completed in 2009/2011. The Art of Refusal: The Experiences of Grant Makers and Grant Seekers (PDF) sets out the full research process and findings. The Art of Grant Refusal: Promising Practice for Grant Makers and Grant Seekers (PDF), presents the insights and practice possibilities and approaches, distilled from grant seeker and grant maker respondents, as promising practice and learning action points. These reports have now been published by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School. The project was carried out by a team of researchers from the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness who studied more than 100 grant making organisations and 40 grant seeking organisations.

Family Foundation Philanthropy (PDF) - a report by Cathy Pharoah, published in 2008 by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness

Distribution of Funds by Christian Charitable Trusts (PDF) by Stuart Barnes, The Sycamore Project, 2007

Social Enterprise: Is it a good idea? (PDF) Are you involved with a charity considering new "social enterprise" activities? If so, this guide has been prepared by Jean Barclay for the Centre for Charity Effectiveness to help you decide whether your social enterprise idea is a good one for your organisation. 2006. The guide also forms the basis of Jean's KnowHow NonProfit StudyZone course.

'First, Do No Harm': An exploratory critique of 'Disaster Grant making, A Practical Guide for Foundations and Corporations' (PDF) - a paper by Ian Williams and Professor Jenny Harrow, presented in the 2005 ESRC Seminar series

The sector

Gift or burden? (PDF) - Ruth Lesirge and Hilary Barnard review the cost/benefit of leadership development in all sizes and non-profit organisations. Published by Caritas in January 2010

Leading leaders: a snapshot into the minds of CEOs (PDF) - a briefing by Astrid Kirchner, Head of Leadership Development at ACEVO, for their 2007 Leadership Week

Collaborations and Mergers

When To Collaborate And When To Compete? (PDF) - a resource paper by Ian Williams, presented in the 2007 Charity Talks series

Strategic thinking

Picture This: A Guide To Scenario Planning (PDF) by Caroline Copeman, published in 2006 by NCVO


'Let Us Now Praise Famous Men': Is appreciative inquiry helpful in researching board member exit? (PDF) - a report by Professor Jenny Harrow and Sue Douthwaite, presented at ARNOVA's 2006 conference