Aims & Objectives

Pro Bono Economics matches volunteer economists with charities wishing to address questions around measurement, results and impact.

Our aims are:

  • To help charities estimate their impact and value at a time when evidence of impact is demanded, budgets are reduced, and charities might lack the expertise to do it themselves.
  • To improve the effectiveness of charities so they are more able to communicate results and make informed decisions about how to use resources.
  • To add value through disseminating the results of our work throughout the sector, discussing methods, challenges and learning.
  • To build a volunteering culture in the economics profession and provide a development opportunity for economists.

Economics is often described as the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Scarcity of resources is a problem that most charities would recognise, so the economist’s way of thinking can add real value in the third sector.

Charities face increasing pressure to measure their performance and results to quantify their wider impact on society. We believe the skills and tools economists have can be used to help charities answer questions that are being asked of them and, in doing so, economists can put their technical skills to use closer to the front line.

HELPING INDIVIDUAL CHARITIES:

With incomes falling and costs increasing it is a challenging time for charities, so it is more important than ever to know what outcomes the services they spend their money on are delivering, and what the value of these outcomes is.

Knowing this can help in allocating resources, can help in making the case in funding applications or tenders, and can support communication and advocacy efforts.

Economist are expensive to hire. The market rate for economists, who work predominantly in the private sector, is often too high for charities. That is why we offer these skills for free, by using volunteers.

HELPING ECONOMISTS:

Economists often specialise in particular areas that require very specific skills and expertise. Volunteering offers an opportunity to learn new skills, and to apply expertise and tools to new areas.

In setting up PBE we hoped that economists would be keen to volunteer. We were delighted to find that is the case, and that economists from across all sectors want to see their profession contribute to the work of charities.

Not only can volunteering benefit the individuals who work with us, but charities tell us that they have a new understanding and appreciation of what economists do.

HELPING THE SECTOR:

We often see that the problems faced by one charity are similar to those faced by others. We want to disseminate any analysis we produce as widely as possible, first and foremost by making it available on our website, and also through discussion events that draw together those in specific sub-sectors, and other stakeholders.

We have begun to identify challenges that are shared by many charities, particularly within sub-sectors. This may be a lack of available data in the public domain on a given subject, or a lack of consensus on the best methodologies to use. We do not necessarily have all the answers, but as we develop our expertise, and through our networks in the charity and public sectors, and the economic profession, we will look to address some of these challenges and provide advice for the sector more broadly.