Pro Bono Economics

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The Oasis Centre,75 Westminster Bridge Road


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Pro Bono Economics  matches volunteer professional economists with charities, providing free help to measure performance and understand charity impact and value. Our aims are:

  • To help charities estimate their impact and value for money at a time when evidence of impact is demanded, budgets are reduced, and where charities may  lack the expertise to do it themselves.
  • To improve the effectiveness of the third sector by helping charities to communicate results, make informed decisions about how to use scarce resources, be more accountable and be able to access funding.
  • To add value through sharing the results of our analysis throughout the sector, discussing methods, challenges and learning, to make charities aware of the value of the work of economists and economists aware of what they can contribute.
  • To foster a volunteering culture in the economics profession through building links with public sector, private sector and academic economists, and providing a development opportunity for our volunteers. 

PBE was set up in 2009 by Martin Brookes, Director of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and Andy Haldane, an Executive Director at the Bank of England, when they identified an opportunity for economists to help charities. The Director, Sue Holloway, is a former government economist and has been Director of the charity since September 2010. A small core team of three staff manage projects and support the relationship between the charity and the volunteers. They are funded by grants from trusts and foundations, ad hoc donations from generous individuals and regular giving by individual economists.

To date we have received applications from over 130 charities from all over the UK. We have had exploratory conversations with some 60 more, which in themselves have, we are told, been extremely helpful to the charities. Over 270 economists have registered with us and we have already used more than 130 of them on projects. About 35 projects have been completed or are in the final stages. These are for charities ranging from the very small (e.g. Fair Pensions and Foundation Training Company) to the very large (Barnardo’s). 

Projects include advice on collection of the data required to do economic analysis in the future, and social cost benefit analyses of particular programmes. All the analysis is peer reviewed by experts and published on the PBE website. At any point in time the central team is managing around 40 projects at various stages in the process. 

Our approach is to be as helpful as possible while maintaining high standards of rigour, transparency and consistency. Our independence and the quality of our volunteers makes the analysis we produce credible with charities and funders alike.

If you are a charity looking for help, an economist looking to volunteer, or just wanting to find out more, visit our website

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