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Voluntary sector

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Title: Voluntary sector  
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Subject: Economic sectors, Economic sector, Economy, Solidarity economy, Disclosure Scotland
Collection: Economic Sectors, Nonprofit Organizations, Non-Profit Organizations, Philanthropy, Social Philosophy
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Voluntary sector

The voluntary sector or community sector (also non-profit sector or "not-for-profit" sector) is the duty of social activity undertaken by Peter Frumkin prefers "non-profit and voluntary sector".[3]


  • Country-specific 1
    • France 1.1
    • United Kingdom 1.2
    • India 1.3
    • Israel 1.4
  • Significance to society and the economy 2
  • Sub-sectors 3
  • Concerns 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6



Discourse on the "third sector" began in the 1970s in France as a result of the crisis in the welfare state.[4]

United Kingdom

The Cabinet Office of the British government until 2010 had an Office of the Third Sector that defined the "third sector" as "the place between State and (the) private sector."[5] The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government renamed the department the Office for Civil Society. The term third sector has now been replaced in Government usage by the term Civil Society or more usually the term Big Society, which was devised by political advisers and which featured prominently in the Conservative Party's 2010 election campaign.


In India this sector is commonly called the "joint sector", and includes the industries run in partnership by the state and Private Sector. In a wider sense the initial investment is made by the state and later the handling is done by the private sector. But here the private sector is responsible to the state when it comes to handling.


In United Hatzalah for emergency medical first response, Yad Sarah for free loan of medical equipment, Yad Eliezer for poverty relief efforts, Akim for assistance for the mentally handicapped, and SHALVA for children with special needs.

Significance to society and the economy

The presence of a large non-profit sector is sometimes seen as an indicator of a healthy economy in local and national financial measurements.[6] With a growing number of non-profit organizations focused on social services, the environment, education and other unmet needs throughout society, the nonprofit sector is increasingly central to the health and well-being of society.[7] Peter Drucker suggests that the nonprofit sector provides an excellent outlet for a variety of society's labor and skills.[8]

In 1976, Daniel Bell predicted that the third sector would become the predominant sector in society, as the knowledge class overcame the effects of the private sector.[9] This presently holds true in a number of European countries. According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, the Netherlands has the largest third sector of 20 countries across Europe.[10] In Ireland the non-profit sector accounts for 8.8% of GDP.[11] In Sweden, the nonprofit sector is attributed with fostering a nationwide social change towards progressive economic, social and cultural policies,[12] while in Italy the third sector is increasingly viewed as a primary employment source for the entire country.[13]

In the United States, approximately 10% of GDP is attributable to the third sector. Donating to private religious organizations remains the most popular American cause, and all religious organizations are entirely privately funded because the government is limited from establishing or prohibiting a religion under the First Amendment.[14]


Although the voluntary, community and not-for-personal-profit sectors are frequently taken to compose the "Third Sector" each of these sectors or sub-sectors have quite different characteristics. The community sector is assumed to comprise volunteers (unpaid) while the voluntary sector are considered (confusingly) to employ staff working for a social or community purpose.[15] In addition however, the not-for-personal-profit sector is also considered to include social firms (such as cooperatives and mutuals) and more recently governmental institutions (such as Housing Associations) that have been spun off from government, although still operating fundamentally as public service delivery organisations. These other types of institutions may be considered to be quasi-private or quasi-public sector rather than stemming from direct community benefit motivations.


There have been long-ranging arguments regarding the financial accountability of the nonprofit sector throughout Western society.[16] There is also ongoing concern whether the nonprofit sector will unequally draw retiring workers from the private sector as the currently large Baby Boomers age.[17] Development of the third sector, it is argued, is linked to restructuring of the welfare state and further globalization of that process through neo-liberal strategies of the Washington consensus.[18]

In a 2013 New York Times op-ed and radio podcast, The Charitable-Industrial Complex, Peter Buffett uses the terms "philanthopic colonialism" and "conscience laundering," and describes his insights into "searching for answers with their right hand to problems that others in the room have created with their left" rather than systemic change.[19][20]

See also



  1. ^ PotÀuček, M. (1999) Not Only the Market: The Role of the Market, Government, and the Civic Sector. Central European University Press. p. 34.
  2. ^ See for example:
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ UK definition of third sector
  6. ^ Verdier, D. (2002) Moving Money: Banking and Finance in the Industrialized World. Cambridge University Press. p. 145.
  7. ^ (2007) "Laban: Volunteering Canterbury - 2007 Awards", June 20, 2007. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  8. ^ (2007) "Drucker Wisdom: Leadership and the CEO." The Blake Project. June 26, 2007. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Bell, D. (1976) The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: a venture in social forecasting. Basic Books. p. 147.
  10. ^ Evers, A. and Laville, J. (2004) The Third Sector in Europe. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 150.
  11. ^ Building a caring civil society in Ireland:
  12. ^ Muffels, J. (2001) Solidarity in Health and Social Care in Europe. Springer. p. 90.
  13. ^ Antonelli, G. and De Liso, N. (2004) European Economic Integration and Italian Labour Policies. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 228.
  14. ^ Christopher Eaton Gunn Third-sector Development: Making Up for the Market (Cornell University Press, 2004) 0801488818, 9780801488818 Partially Accessible Copy on Google Books (accessed July 6, 2009 on Google Book Search)
  15. ^ Volresource
  16. ^ Gettler, L. (2007) "Non-profits can be more accountable," The Age. 5/31/07. Retrieved 6/25/07.
  17. ^ The Conference Board. (2007) "Non-Profit Firms Face Many Challenges and Some Opportunities With Advent of Retirement of Baby-Boom Generation." Earth Times. 5/31/07. Retrieved 6/25/07.
  18. ^ Pawel Zaleski Global Non-governmental Administrative System: Geosociology of the Third Sector, [in:] Gawin, Dariusz & Glinski, Piotr [ed.]: "Civil Society in the Making", IFiS Publishers, Warszawa 2006
  19. ^
  20. ^
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