Launched 26 January 2023 Unleashing the power and potential of civil society This is the outcome of the two-year Law Family Commission to strengthen civil societies and demonstrate its impact.
Nancy Hey, Executive Director of the Centre for Social Change, discusses the report within the context of civil society, a hidden engine of high-quality nations, and how the Centre supports this sector.
What does it mean to be a successful nation?
The UK must have a strong private, public, and civil society sector to reach its full potential in sustainability, prosperity, and social progress.
“All three sectors share certain traits that are essential to this end. Each sector has a contribution to make that can help the other. They create a powerful force when all three pull in the same direction.” – Lord Gus O’Donnell (Centre Patron), Chair of the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, and Chair of Pro Bono Economics
Hidden engine of high-wellbeing nation
Volunteers, community groups and charities, schools and universities, advocacy organizations, professional associations, faiths and cultural institutions are all part of civil society.
These activities and organizations result in wellbeing through:
- Promoting improvements in our lives and the environment.
- We bring people together and build and strengthen our communities.
- Provide services to people who are in need.
Collective action in the public sector serves to improve people’s lives. All of us are part of our collective Civic Life. As demonstrated during the pandemic, it’s our common purpose and a source for resilience.
That is what we know:
- Donating to charity High levels of wellbeing are a key indicator that countries have high standards of living. Altruism and helping others is more important than the absence of misery.
- It is important to have someone you can rely on when you are in trouble This is the second largest indicator of high levels of wellbeing in nations. This is what we do for one another, and organisations of all types step up to help where civil society excels, whether formally or not.
- Volunteering It is a powerful workplace intervention that develops organizational citizenship skills. Giving professional expertise outside of work can improve wellbeing for those in the working age.
- We need to have a mixture of purpose, achievement, enjoyment And Learning.
As it builds our democracy, our Civil Society is the backbone of our Democracy. social capital. It is important to take care of it, value it, and grow it.
How can we measure this growth?
In conjunction with Life Expectancy, the gross domestic product (GDP), is used to measure policy success. GDP is a measure of the total value of goods and services that were produced over a period. Both are useful as a focus for activities that improve lives because they support conditions that promote health, employment, knowledge, and trust, and other determinants of a good life and work.
They have their limitations. The existing economic and policy tools we have don’t allow us to value the things we need. The GDP, for example, is silent about many things we know are important and that are supported civil society, like the meaning and purpose of life. Objective of:
- Volunteering and giving
- Family and faith
- Action and shared interest
GDP also ignores distribution, risk resilience, and sustainability of economic and natural resources, as well as social and human resources. These Capitals These are the things that must be actively constructed and maintained in order to ensure our future well-being.
Another proxy for social progress is life expectancy. It also silences on the quality and health of life and the joy that it brings.
Historical records show that well-being outcomes have been a positive factor in the past. be overlooked, underused and underestimated. This evidence is largely held by civil society and can be shared more widely to improve practice and understanding.
Both charities and funders value evidence that shows how interventions are implemented in practice. This is important because it helps to create change for people and communities. A wellbeing lens is a useful way to demonstrate the impact that civil society has on society. Such evaluation doesn’t require new questions or metrics. They are already available in the form harmonised measurements like the ONS4 (with Guide on how to use them() Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales. These evaluations may leave you with a Legacy of learning. A wellbeing lens can help you shift to a preventative approach, and help you refocus on the positive.
Our evidence synthesis and knowledge mobilization give civil society a longer and more extensive life span, allowing us to build in-sector as well as cross-sector capacities.
What is the Law Family Commission on Civil Society and what does it do?
Pro Bono Economics and Andrew Law supported the creation of the Commission in 2020.
It was a collaborative, cross-sectoral, and cross-party operation to:
- Identify a vision of the role of civil society in relation to government.
- Give evidence to support meaningful change
- Create a plan that includes practical recommendations about how to make civil society thrive and more fully fulfill its many roles in economic and social well-being across the UK.
The final report of the Commission outlines these points. concrete ideas for policymakers, social sector organisations, philanthropists, and companies to address the systemic problems. These include:
- How to generate additional PS5 billion per year in charitable giving
- How to transform the sector’s infrastructure so that every community group or volunteer organization can thrive.
- The Commission’s work will result in major sector data changes.
The report calls for:
- Funders invest in strategic investment in the social sector’s productivity and data about the sector.
- Partnership between business and civil society
- A “reset,” of the relationship between government and civil society.
- Local communities to take pride in their place by empowering them
This is what we’re doing
Our mission is to share reliable, accessible, and useful evidence that can be used by governments, businesses, communities, and individuals to improve the wellbeing of the UK.
We are increasing the number of information points in order to give the UK citizens the information that they require. Access to wellbeing data. We are working to improve the analysis capabilities of others by making our methods transparent and visible, as well as making data faster, easier, and more affordable.
“We can release data to the public, and they can hold us accountable in different ways,” Lord Gus O’DonnellCentre Patron, Chair of Pro Bono Economics and Law Family Commission on Civil Society Chair
Here are some examples of how we have brought together wellbeing assessments from the civil sector in order to understand what works, and highlight evidence gaps:
- Our review of Social capital is the ability to belong, receive social support, and build cohesion..
- Refreshed review of Places, spaces, and social connections To include five years of learning.
- Review of What works to improve wellbeing across various interventions?To systematically identify and summarize evidence from evaluations that use standardised measures and wellbeing frameworks.
Pro Bono Economics is our partner to help you put evidence into practice.
- Green Book Training Sessions For economists. This offering includes an introduction one-hour session and half-day economist training in order to increase awareness and confidence about the guidance. The future plans include the creation of a digital toolkit.
- The recently updated short guide provides guidance on wellbeing evaluations. Assessing the wellbeing impact of charity work.
This work will continue with the following projects:
- We are working together with the Campaign to End Loneliness and funded by DCMS Tackling Loneliness Team. Reviewing the evidence and mapping the current practices in the field to reduce loneliness.
- Review of Control and community agency To understand how communities can improve their wellbeing by exercising agency and control.
- Development of a Wellbeing Data Dashboard Understanding SocietyTo increase survey data availability and facilitate high-quality analysis, appraisal, and evaluation.