Charity announces new scheme to match its expert volunteer economists with civil society organisations as they tackle the coronavirus challenge

Are you a c​harity or volunteer and you want to get involved? Get in touch.

This is a very uncertain time for charities and their beneficiaries, with demand for services rising just as lockdown makes funding and other resources harder to obtain. To strengthen charities’ hands as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Pro Bono Economics, the charity that uses economics to support wellbeing in the UK, is launching a new ‘fast-track’ service for civil society organisations.

PBE already helps charities to understand and improve their effectiveness by providing detailed support with economic evaluation and cost benefit analysis. It will continue to provide that service, noting that the current circumstances will likely make such a focus all the more important in the coming months.

Its new service, launched today, is designed to provide additional, emergency support. As charities, not-for-profits and volunteering organisations – both well-established and newly-forming – deal with today’s unprecedented challenges, the service offers rapid access to the practical expertise of PBE’s extensive network of professional economists.

The volunteers will supply light-touch or ad hoc data support, undertaking tasks such as spreadsheet support (for instance, the design of simple Excel rotas or budgets to help with planning in volunteer groups), data analysis (such as using ONS data to map out local demographics or user-need) and data visualisation (creating charts or infographics for public information programmes or requests for funding, for instance). PBE also expects to receive requests for more detailed volunteer research support from others within the economics policy sphere who want to better understand and respond to the current crisis.  

PBE was co-founded in 2009 by Andy Haldane and Martin Brookes. It has worked with over 400 charities since then, and has a volunteer database of over 600 highly skilled economists from across all parts of the profession, including academia, government, the private sector and the charity sector. The charity is chaired by Lord Gus O’Donnell.  

Matt Whittaker, Chief Executive of Pro Bono Economics, commented:

“Pro Bono Economics was set up in direct response to the financial crisis, tapping into the skills of professional economists to support wider social benefit. Our service has evolved since inception, and the charities we work with enjoy pro bono deep-dive support with economic evaluation. Faced with a new crisis, we want to return to our roots, widening access to our skilled volunteers via a new ‘fast-track’ service.

“The support that economists can provide to charities in the current setting might not always be immediately obvious. But we believe there are any number of light-touch, data-related tasks that our army of volunteers can take on. From offering advice over the phone to spending a couple of hours designing a planning spreadsheet, and from doing some digging in government data to reinforcing a team undertaking more in-depth research work, the UK economics profession has much to offer.

“We want to ensure that no civil society organisation – whether it’s a well-established charity or a newly-forming volunteer group – finds itself stuck simply because it can’t access the right sort of data expertise. From today, charities and others can request pro bono support via a simple form on our website, and our volunteers will then be encouraged to get in touch to offer whatever help they can. New economist volunteers are also very welcome to sign up to join the programme.”           

NB:       This new, flexible matchmaking service is not intended to replace PBE’s core activities. The organisation will continue to work directly with charities to help them quantify the value of their work, and to understand and improve their economic/social impact – both individually and at sector level – and so focus debate and strengthen both practice and policy. 


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For further information, please contact:

SENSO Communications

Penny Lukats, 07775992350, [email protected]



About Pro Bono Economics:

Pro Bono Economics helps charities and social enterprises understand and improve the impact and value of their work, matching professional economists who want to use their skills to volunteer with charities. Set up in 2009, Pro Bono Economics has helped over 400 charities large and small, covering a wide range of issues including mental health, education, employment and complex needs.

Pro Bono Economics is supported by high-profile economists, including Andy Haldane (Bank of England), Sir Dave Ramsden (Bank of England), and Clare Lombardelli (HM Treasury) as Trustees, and Diane Coyle (University of Cambridge), Kate Barker, Lord Jim O’Neill, Robert Peston, Martin Wolf and Lord Adair Turner as patrons. Lord Gus O’Donnell has been Chair of the Board of Trustees since September 2016.

14th April 2020