Charities today face greater challenge and more scrutiny. Yet despite their crucial role in society and the challenges they face, the academic study of charity, to date, has not been strong. The Oxford Institute of Charity is being established to address this problem.

The Oxford Institute of Charity will work with others across the UK and internationally to strengthen understanding of the challenges that face the Third Sector, and the practical solutions that will help ensure charity remains a vivid and vital part of our society.


The Oxford Institute of Charity is a collaborative venture between Charity Futures, the well-respected Third Sector leadership body, and New College, Oxford, founded in 1379 as a result of a charitable gift. Based in the University of Oxford, it will attract staff of the highest calibre, as well as operating in a conducive but challenging academic environment.

The Oxford Institute of Charity will provide:

  • Action-oriented research: There is an urgent need for research which can illuminate how best to create sustainability in the sector, rooted in a wide range of academic disciplines. The OIC will have a programme of publishing its research findings, and turning them into pragmatic blueprints for action.
  • Teaching: Working with a range of expert external partners and providers, we will create interdisciplinary syllabi and courses, with the objective of making the sector more professional at all levels.
  • Leadership: The organisation of charities is often weak, and their leadership potential is under-realised. We will take the lead – again working with partners – to help strengthen performance of senior executives within the sector, and to develop next generation leadership.
  • Convening: Stakeholders from around the world will be drawn together periodically, but will also receive regular bulletins of relevant, up-to-date and practical information and guidance.
  • Networking: The OIC intends to scale and catalyse its impact through active international collaboration and networks. The new Tower which will be home to the OIC adjoins a 100-seater lecture hall and newly built bedrooms, allowing the Institute to run seminars, lectures and summer schools with guests from around the world.
  • Advocacy: We will work to influence governments, the media, opinion formers and the general public to create a more positive environment for the sector. Crucially, the OIC will advocate for long-lasting impact, and all the measures which are necessary to sustain it.
  • International: We will develop links with universities and charities globally and use our facilities to host summer schools and workshops to promote sustainable operations worldwide. 
  • Public lectures and awards: The OIC intends to launch a public Lecture Series, followed by an annual Impact Prize for the sector.

Steering group

A Steering Group leads the OIC in its early stages of its development:

• Sir Stephen Bubb, Director Charity Futures and Acting Director Oxford Institute of Charity

• Miles Young, Warden New College and Director Charity Futures

• Jonathan Smith, Director Charity Futures Read more…

• Farahnaz Karim, Director Charity Futures Read more…

• Leonard Stall, Chairman Charity Futures and Oxford Institute of Charity Steering Group Read more…

• Arun Smith, Associate Researcher

“The willingness of New College to participate in this collaboration is a very significant moment 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 it was essential to find a home at a place where scholarly research into the topic would be valued and safeguarded.”

Read more about Stephen…

“We are very pleased to be hosting the Oxford Institute of Charity in the College, as the third and newest of our Research Centres. What particularly attracts us is the opportunity to apply interdisciplinary scholarship to the subject, and in a way that reinforces our own - and Oxford’s - expertise in subjects as diverse as history, philosophy, politics, economics, law and government.”

Read more about Miles…

Academic programme

The Oxford Institute of Charity (OIC) aims to open in 2023. It will be dedicated to the long term sustainability of charity at a time when the sector sometimes has been found wanting in terms both of governance and impact. Yet charity is a major contributor to the well-being of society, a vital complement to the role of government in service provision, a major employer and a fundamental part of a healthy, civil society.

The OIC will conduct high quality research in areas where there currently is none; provide a recognised global forum where ideas relating to charity can be discussed; fill the current gap in the availability of practical, soundly-based programmes which will deliver change in the sector; and help create undergraduate and post-graduate teaching, as well as executive development, all to high academic standards, where there are also gaping holes in provision.

“Our research and study of charity aims to promote a better, more sustainable and effective model for charity. The OIC will also serve as an authoritative source for views on the sector with government and the media and in policy development generally.”

Sir Stephen Bubb

The academic programme will explore the history, policy and practice of the charity sector. It will facilitate deep engagement with practitioners to formulate better research questions and to ensure the applicability of findings. We also hope to encourage greater focus on this in other universities, through a network of collaborations.

The Oxford Institute of Charity will support, through New College, an Academic Director to manage its work. A series of Junior Research Fellows will be established on subjects such as Law, Politics, Economics, Philosophy and History, to explore different aspects of charity.

Miles Young


OIC will operate from the Tower of the new Gradel Quadrangles, being built by New College. The Tower, shown below, stands at the entrance to the site, and its offices will house the new Institute. Find out more about this exciting new project and how the an ‘architecture of openness’ will mirror our own ethos