Information for Third Sector organisations

What is Pro Bono OR?

Pro Bono OR enables third sector organisations to benefit from Operational Research (OR) and reach their full potential. As organisations face increasing pressure to reduce costs whilst improving efficiency and effectiveness, OR can play a key part in helping them survive and thrive.

OR is a broad discipline which uses rigorous analytical methods to help to increase efficiency and reduce costs, to plan strategy or to assess impact. ProBono OR introduces third sector managers to OR experts from industry and academia, who volunteer their time to help; whether the need is for more effective decisions, better strategy, slicker systems, measuring performance or indeed anything that will improve effectiveness, insight and foresight.

We work with all types of third sector organisations ranging from large national organisations down to small community groups and social enterprises.

For some examples, view our PBOR case studies.


How can OR help your organisation?

OR is about finding ways to apply analytical methods to make better decisions. Third Sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources. 

These are some of the issues that Operational Research can address:

  • Strategic planning/review
  • Data analysis and insight
  • Options appraisal
  • Decision-making
  • Process improvement
  • Impact measurement

Pro Bono OR provides a skilled OR analyst who comes armed with an array of analytical tools to help identify the critical factors and issues, explore the different options and explain the impact of them in real terms.

By using techniques such as problem structuring methods (sometimes known as 'Soft OR.') and mathematical modelling to analyse complex situations, Operational Research gives executives the power to make more effective decisions and build more productive systems based on:

  • More complete data
  • Consideration of all available options
  • Better understanding of potential outcomes
  • The latest decision tools and techniques

Organisations may seek a very wide range of operational improvements - for example, greater efficiency, better customer service, higher quality or lower cost. Whatever the aim, OR can offer the flexibility and adaptability to provide objective help.

The Process


The Pro Bono OR Promise


  • help any enquiring organisation to work out what sort of support they need
  • introduce any qualifying organisation to OR analysts who would like to help
  • oversee the project with a light touch: checking that it has an agreed scope and deliverables, that it is progressing as planned and being on hand to help with problems
  • support the ending of the project and request feedback to evaluate our offering
  • publicise the project if suitable, and by agreement
  • follow our Pro Bono Process and adhere to The OR Society’s Statement of Ethical Principles