Information for Third Sector organisations

What is Pro Bono OR?

Operational research is the science of better decision making, helping managers make more effective decisions. It is a very broad spectrum and there is usually a way in which it can be applied whether that is increasing efficiency, helping to reduce costs, plan strategy or demonstrate impact.

Pro Bono OR is a scheme that was launched by The OR Society in 2013 (a pilot scheme started in 2011). The scheme places skills-based volunteers in short term projects with third sector organisations across the UK. We work with all types of third sector organisations ranging from large national organisations down to small community groups and social enterprises.

Volunteers are operational research/analytical professionals. These vary from people in their early career to those who are retired. Some work on projects in their own time whilst others are given volunteer days by their company.  Volunteers can work as individuals, pairs or teams on projects.

Projects are diverse in nature, and as a result, so are the skillsets of our volunteers. Skills include: data analysis, data mining, database design, decision analysis, facilitation, financial analysis, forecasting, logistics, mentoring/coaching, modelling, optimisation, performance measurement, problem structuring, programming, project management, regression, risk analysis, scheduling, simulation, statistical analysis, strategic planning/development, system dynamics etc. The projects vary in length of time from half a day to over a week and can be spread out over a period of time.

How can OR help your organisation?

Third Sector organisations face extremely complex decisions about the direction they should take and how to allocate scarce resources. Without the tools to model different scenarios and understand the consequences of them, it isn't surprising that many organisations tend to rely on gut feelings. An OR practitioner comes armed with an array of analytical tools plus the skills and experience to identify the critical factors and issues, explore the different options and explain the impact of them in real terms.

OR consistently delivers significant value, from strategic to tactical, top-line to bottom-line. Our analysts are able to provide insight into:

  • Business insight: Providing quantitative and business insight into complex problems.
  • Business performance: Improving business performance by embedding model-driven intelligence into an organisation’s information systems to improve decision making.
  • Cost reduction: Finding new opportunities to decrease cost or investment.
  • Decision making: Assessing the likely outcomes of decision alternatives and uncovering better alternatives.
  • Forecasting: Providing a better basis for more accurate forecasting and planning.
  • Improved scheduling: Efficiently scheduling staff, equipment, events, and more.
  • Planning: Applying quantitative techniques to support operations, tactical planning, and strategic planning.
  • Pricing: Dynamically pricing products and services.
  • Productivity: Helping organisations find ways to make processes and people more productive.
  • Profits: Increasing revenue or return on investment; increasing market share.
  • Quality: Improving quality as well as quantifying and balancing qualitative considerations.
  • Recovery: Gaining greater control and achieving turn-around.
  • Resources: Gaining greater utilisation from limited equipment, facilities, money, and personnel.
  • Risk: Measuring risk quantitatively and uncovering factors critical to managing and reducing risk.
  • Throughput: Increasing speed or throughput and decreasing delays.

The Process


The Pro Bono OR Promise


  • Offer assistance to third sector organisations who can prove they have charitable objectives, can demonstrate support for the equalities agenda and are based in the UK.
  • Be compliant with relevant legislative drivers, e.g. Equalities, Human Rights, H&S, Data Protection etc.
  • Adhere to The OR Society’s Statement of Ethical Principles.
  • Be transparent and accountable.
  • Agree a detailed project.
  • Seek to resolve disputes if they arise.
  • Use experiences as case studies to promote OR methodologies by agreement with clients.


  • Work with organisations and volunteers, with aims, goals and practices that are not compliant with legislative and policy drivers. Unless the specified project is part of the organisation's plan to become compliant.
  • Be responsible for the outcome of the project. The OR Society’s role is to match up the volunteers and organisation.

Details of organisation

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