What was the Third Sector Futures Dialogue?

The Futures Dialogue was established by TSRC (the Third Sector Research Centre) in the summer of 2012, and ran for eight months through to spring 2013.

This website ‘closed’ to new contributions at the conclusion of the dialogue period, but remains online to provide documentary evidence of the process that took place.

The aim of the Futures Dialogue was to use the findings from TSRC research to provide the basis for a dialogue on some of the key issues underpinning the future development of the third sector in England, focusing in particular upon how the sector would, and should, respond to emerging challenges. The dialogue took a number of forms including:

  • publication of a series of five ‘Big Picture’ discussion papers from TSRC researchers outlining key findings and identifying issues for debate
  • open invitation seminars in London where these findings were presented and discussed
  • online ‘Question and Answer’ live discussion sessions hosted by Guardian Voluntary Sector Network
  • meetings of a ‘Sounding Board’ of leading sector experts from policy and practice to debate the issues and discuss the future challenges for the sector
  • online commentary and blogs on this dedicated Futures Dialogue website established by TSRC
  • a TSRC national conference held at the British Library in April 2013 where these issues were debated further by a large open audience.

At the conclusion of the dialogue period, TSRC published the report  ‘Unity in Diversity’, which is available online at www.tsrc.ac.ukhttp://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/tsrc/publications/tsrc-major-reports.aspx

Original intruduction to this site published August 2012


Over the past six months, the Third Sector Research Centre has been hosting a series of dialogues on the future of the third sector. These have been be informed by the research we have undertaken over the past four years. The dialogues consisted of Sounding Board meetings and online debate from the third sector community…. more about the process

SEE FINAL REPORT: Unity in Diversity: What is the future for the third sector?  

The Futures Dialogue focused on five key issues. For each of the dialogues, we posted a TSRC paper for discussion. The online debate was used to inform the Sounding Board discussions. See each dialogue for more information:

The dialogues:

A strategic lead for the third sector

Is the third sector being overwhelmed by the state and the market?

Is the third sector so special? What is it worth?

No longer a voluntary sector?

The worst of Times?