When Pro Bono Economics works with a charity, our projects typically fall into three different categories:

  1. Advice
  2. Analysis
  3. Advocacy

1. Advice

This type of project involves an extensive review of an organisation's evidence base.  The aim of this step is to produce a report that outlines whether an economic analysis is possible and, if so, guidance on how to prepare for an economic analysis.  This guidance typically outlines the data that the charity would need to collect to form the basis of an economic analysis.  

Key charity information required for such a report includes:

  • Existing Strategy and Business Plan.
  • Logic Model/Theory of Change. Pro Bono Economics needs to understand the change the charity wants to make for the people who it serves, how it expects to achieve this change and the associated outcomes it expects in the short, medium and long term. As part of an advisory project, Pro Bono Economics can help develop a logic model and determine your long -term, intermediate and short-term outcomes. 
  • A list of data that you collect about participants and their progress.
  • How you find, identify and/or recruit people into the programme.


2. Analysis

Economic analysis reports typically take the form of a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) or Break-Even Analysis:

  • A CBA is a method of evaluating the extent to which the benefits of a project, programme or intervention exceed its costs i.e. for every £ spent on the project we generate £x in benefit to society. Pro Bono Economics case study: Place2be
  • A Break-Even Analysis shows how successful a charity would have to be for the social value of its work to outweigh its costs. Pro Bono Economics case study: MAC-UK

Many charities apply for Pro Bono Economics for support with economic analysis but may not have the information required to undertake such a project. Key information required to do this work is:

  • Logic Model/Theory of Change.
  • Costs of the programme.
  • Outcomes data for participants that successfully complete the whole programme.
  • A counterfactual: this is the ‘what would have happened anyway?’ question. You may have some information on this from existing evaluation work but do not worry if you are unsure at this point as the volunteer economist will explore different approaches that best fit your organisation.


3. Advocacy

This project helps review the existing evidence base to examine the scale of a national issue, such as the cost of low adult numeracy as performed for the charity National Numeracy. The evidence and arguments produced through a literature review or policy analysis can be used to support an organisation’s cause or position.

Information required for Advocacy projects: a good research question. This should be clear, focused and summarises the issue that the volunteer will investigate e.g. ‘What is the cost to the UK economy of low levels of numeracy within the adult population and who bears these costs?’

Pro Bono Economics case study: Hestia



If you are unsure what category your project falls into or if you have a different ask for Pro Bono Economics, you may still apply. We are open to receiving other requests for support that economics can address from charities and social enterprises.