Oxford announces new Institute for Charity

A new Institute of Charity is to be hosted at New College, Oxford.

The Oxford Institute of Charity (OIC) represents a collaboration between the College and Charity Futures, the Third Sector think tank, and is the culmination of almost three years of discussion and planning.

It is anticipated that the Institute will open its doors in the summer of 2022 in a purpose-built home on a newly developed part of the college site.

OIC’s objectives will be to:

  • deliver high calibre academic research to be used by the global charity community
  • promote the importance of research and study of charity, both at post-graduate and undergraduate level, in universities more generally
  • develop networks and foster links internationally
  • digitise charity records to assist with wider research and study
  • organise conferences and summer schools for UK and global academics, philanthropists, corporate donors and leaders of civil society

Work at OIC will begin in earnest in June with the development of a strategic fundraising plan. OIC will undertake a global search for a single £30 million endowment to deliver a sustainable annual income.

Sir Stephen Bubb, Director of Charity Futures, will retain his role at Charity Futures, but will also assume an interim role at OIC as Acting Director, charged with commissioning the fundraising strategy, raising awareness of OIC in academic circles and in charities, and working collaboratively with the college to identify and appoint the first Academic Director.

Speaking about the new Institute, Miles Young, Warden of New College said: ‘We are very pleased to be hosting the Oxford Institute of Charity in the College, as the third and newest of our Research Centres. Charity’s important role in our society is often undervalued, and I believe that one cause of that is that it is surprisingly little studied in Universities. What particularly attracts us is the opportunity to apply interdisciplinary scholarship to the subject, and in a way which reinforces our own – and Oxford’s expertise – in subjects as diverse as history and philosophy, politics and economics, law and government. New College was founded as a charitable enterprise by William of Wykeham as far back as 1379, so this does seem an appropriate place to help remedy the academic neglect of the subject.’

Sir Stephen Bubb, Acting Director of OIC said: ‘When there are so many divisions in society, civil society is needed more than ever. And when charities themselves face challenges, research and study of charity is particularly timely. The participation of New College in this collaboration is very significant for us. Charity Futures was established to look at the long-term future health of the charitable sector in the UK. We were clear from the start that finding a home at a truly excellent academic institution was essential if the mission of providing original and rigorous research was to be met. The research and study of charity will be of the highest intellectual order but aims to promote better, more sustainable, and effective performance of charity in the world. OIC will also serve as an authoritative source for views on the sector with government and the media, and in the development of policy generally. My role is to give the Institute a solid foundation from which it can thrive and prosper long into the future. In practical terms this means establishing a firm financial base and securing an inspirational academic leader. The Institute will make a major contribution to the sector I love and have worked in for some three decades.’

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: ‘I’m very pleased to see the launch of the Oxford Institute of Charity. As the size and influence of the charity sector has grown considerably, it’s right that the attention we give to understanding it also grows. We already have a range of outstanding academic centres dedicated to studying many aspects of charity, and I know all those behind the Institute passionately believe that its greatest impact will be delivered through collaborating with other researchers across the UK and beyond.’

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