The potential of civil society: focus groups for small civil society organisations

The UK is rightly proud of its civil society. But though we have pride in it and trust it, it is undervalued and too often overlooked. Given the right support, resources and policy attention, there is more civil society could achieve.

Small charities, community groups, social enterprises and campaign groups contribute so much to making the UKs civil society what it is, but often their insights, expertise and experiences are not given sufficient attention in research.

As such the Law Family Commission on Civil Society is extending its Call for Evidence by holding a series of online focus groups in early June exclusively for micro and small civil society organisations (any charity, community group, social enterprise, or campaign groups with an annual income of less than £500,000).

The evidence submitted through this process will shape the Commission’s priorities and contribute to research content produced over the course of the Commission’s life cycle.


The online focus groups will cover four topics: Valuing civil society; Unleashing the potential of civil society; Civil society, government and levelling up; and Civil Society and Business. There are two focus groups per topic and each focus group will run for 90 minutes. Organisations are welcome to participate in one focus group per topic.

We appreciate that small organisations have limited resources, so we would like to compensate individuals who are offering their time. Participating organisations will be given £60 per focus group they attend.

The Commission is seeking input on the following topics:

1.    Valuing civil society

Objective of the focus group

It’s clear the public greatly values civil society, but that value is not reflected in the numbers that drive decisions in our country.

As such we need a better understanding of the true value of civil society. This will help build evidence around the scale of civil society’s contribution, not just to society, but to the economy too.

The ‘Valuing civil society’ focus groups are now full

2.    Unleashing the potential of civil society

Objective of the focus group

We want to develop practical ideas and policy proposals that will help civil society organisations unleash their full potential.

That means understanding whether micro and small civil society organisations feel they are maximising their potential. And if not, what would support them to achieve as much as they possibly could – from funding to capacity building to how volunteers are used.

The ‘Unleashing the potential of civil society’ focus groups are now full

3.    Civil society, government and levelling up

Objective of the focus group

There are many touchpoints between civil society and the state. These include finance, regulation, service delivery, influencing policy development and contributing to decision making. We want civil society and governments of all levels (central, national, and local) to work more effectively together.

Therefore, evidence is needed to understand exactly how micro and small civil society organisations and government interact currently, where this relationship is working well and where there are opportunities to do better. We also want to understand how they think civil society is best positioned to contribute to ‘levelling up’ the country.

Dates and times of focus group

  • Tuesday 8th June – 10:30 – 12:00
  • Thursday 10th June – 14:00 – 15:30

Book here: 8 JuneBook here: 10 June

4.    Civil society and business

Objective of the focus group

The line between business and civil society is blurring, with businesses increasingly recognising the need to demonstrate their social value alongside their profitability. Civil society has knowledge of social issues and expertise in generating social value, which is a helpful resource for businesses.

We want civil society and businesses to work more effectively together, recognising the unique role and value each contributes to achieving the best possible outcomes for the UK.

Therefore, evidence is needed to understand more about how civil society and the private sector interact currently, where this relationship is working well and where there are opportunities to do better.

Dates and times of focus group

  • Tuesday 8th June – 14:00 – 15:30

Book here: 8 June

Payment and further information

  • Each focus group will be held over Zoom and last 90 minutes in total, comprising of a maximum of 8 participants. Spaces are first come first served. Once your space is confirmed, you’ll receive a confirmation email.
  • Participant organisations will be compensated £60 per 90-minute focus group they attend
  • While we are happy for organisations to attend focus groups on different topics, we are unable to allow organisations to attend both focus groups on the same topic
  • Audio will be recorded, and a transcript will be written to support data analysis. Any direct quotes or information used in published research that can identify participants or organisations will be anonymised
  • Depending on levels of demand for each focus group we may need to cancel or amend dates, we will do our best to give you sufficient notice of any changes.