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The voluntary sector, independent sector, or civic sector is the realm of social activity undertaken by
organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsu ...

organization
s that are
non-governmental A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of ...
nonprofit organizations A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social benefit, in contrast with an entity that o ...
. This sector is also called the third sector, community sector, and nonprofit sector, in contrast to the
public sector The public sector (also called the state sector) is the part of the economy composed of both public service A public service is a service Service may refer to: Activities :''(See the Religion section for religious activities)'' * Administ ...
and the
private sector The private sector is the part of the economy An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of indust ...
. Civic sector or social sector are other terms for the sector, emphasizing its relationship to
civil society Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment ...
.
Richard Cornuelle Richard Charles Cornuelle (April 10, 1927 – April 26, 2011) was a political activist, charity worker, author, and one of the first modern American libertarians. Early life Cornuelle received a bachelor's degree from Occidental College, graduatin ...

Richard Cornuelle
coined the term "independent sector" and was one of the first scholars to point out the vast impact and unique mechanisms of this sector. Given the diversity of organizations that comprise the sector,
Peter FrumkinPeter Frumkin is a professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an Academy, academic rank at university, universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, ''professor'' derives fr ...
prefers "non-profit and voluntary sector".


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. With a growing number of non-profit organizations focused on
social services Social services are a range of public services intended to provide support and assistance towards particular groups, which commonly include the disadvantaged The "disadvantaged" is a generic term for individuals or groups of people who: * Face speci ...
, the
environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism or ...
,
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
and other unmet needs throughout society, the nonprofit sector is increasingly central to the health and well-being of society.
Peter Drucker Peter Ferdinand Drucker (; ; November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005) was an Austrian-American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business cor ...
suggests that the nonprofit sector provides an excellent outlet for a variety of society's labor and skills. The first two decades of the 20th century were characterized by a public zeal for social reform and social justice known as the Progressive Era. The newly founded National Association of Societies for Organizing Charity had immediate influence during that era. Its extensive field work helped organize new societies and strengthen others. Smaller cities became well-organized, with the South and Northwest particular areas of focus. To permit membership of Canadian societies, the association changed its name in 1912 to the American Association of Societies for Organizing Charity. In 1917, it became the American Association for Organizing Charity. These agencies increasingly were providing direct service to individuals and families. Pauperism, child welfare, juvenile justice, sanitation, tuberculosis, and other health issues were emergent problems for new and existing agencies. The American Red Cross fueled a nationwide fervor for social service. Founded in the United States in 1881, it was reorganized in 1905 to focus on military personnel. With this pivotal decision, the business of organizing charities quickly evolved into the business of social work. In 1976,
Daniel Bell Daniel Bell (May 10, 1919 – January 25, 2011) was an American sociologist, writer, editor, and professor at Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was t ...

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. This presently holds true in a number of European countries. According to a recent study by
Johns Hopkins University The Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty S ...

Johns Hopkins University
, the Netherlands has the largest third sector of 20 countries across Europe. Ireland's non-profit fundraised income formed 0.33% of Irish
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the ...
, less than the UK and US, in 2016. In Sweden, the nonprofit sector is attributed with fostering a nationwide
social change Social change involves alteration of the social order The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structure In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned soci ...
towards progressive economic, social and cultural policies, while in Italy the third sector is increasingly viewed as a primary employment source for the entire country. 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 First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
.


Sub-sectors

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. 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.


Concerns

There have been long-ranging arguments regarding the financial accountability of the nonprofit sector throughout
Western society The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabita ...
. There is also ongoing concern whether the nonprofit sector will unequally draw retiring workers from the private sector as the currently large
baby boomers Baby boomers (often shortened to boomers) are the demographic Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancien ...
age. 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 The Washington Consensus is a set of ten economic policy prescriptions considered to constitute the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries A developing country is a sovereign state with a less developed ...
.Pawel Zaleski ''Global Non-governmental Administrative System: Geosociology of the Third Sector'', n:Gawin, Dariusz & Glinski, Piotr d. "Civil Society in the Making", IFiS Publishers, Warszawa 2006 In a 2013 ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publicatio ...
'' op-ed and radio podcast, ''The Charitable-Industrial Complex'',
Peter Buffett Peter Andrew Buffett (born May 4, 1958) is an American musician, composer, author and philanthropist. With a career that spans more than 30 years, Buffett is an Emmy Award The Emmy Awards, or Emmys, are awards for artistic and technical m ...
uses the terms "philanthropic 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.


Country-specific


France

Discourse on the "third sector" began in the 1970s in France as a result of the crisis in the
welfare state The welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equal o ...
.


India

In India this sector is commonly called the "joint sector", and includes the industries run in partnership by the state and
Private Sector The private sector is the part of the economy An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of indust ...
. 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.


Israel

In Israel this sector is commonly called the "Third Sector", ( he, המגזר השלישי) and generally refers to non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the line between the two quite fine. These organizations generally fill a gap in the existing government or municipal service provision. Examples include
United Hatzalah United Hatzalah ("united rescue" in Hebrew: איחוד הצלה) is an Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל; ar, إِسْرَائِيل), officially known as the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, '), is a c ...
for emergency medical first response,
Yad Sarah Yad Sarah ( he, יד שרה) is the largest national volunteer Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such ...

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.


United Kingdom

The
Cabinet Office The Cabinet Office is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographical and admin ...

Cabinet Office
of the
British government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
until 2010 had an Office of the Third Sector that defined the "third sector" as "the place between State and (the) private sector." 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 for while under the Cameron government, the term
Big Society The Big Society was a political ideology developed in the early 21st century. The idea proposed "integrating the free market In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, t ...
, which was devised by political advisers and which featured prominently in the Conservative Party's 2010 election campaign.


United States

The U.S. nonprofit sector consisted of approximately 1.56 million organizations registered with the
Internal Revenue Service The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue service A revenue service, revenue agency or taxation authority is a government agency responsible for the intake of government revenue, including taxes and sometimes non-tax revenue. Depe ...
in 2015. These reporting nonprofits identified $2.54 trillion in revenues and $5.79 trillion in assets in 2015. Over $400 billion in revenue comes through private support and
fundraising Fundraising or fund-raising is the process of seeking and gathering voluntary financial contributions by engaging individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies. Although fundraising typically refers to efforts to gathe ...

fundraising
. The U.S. nonprofit sector contributed an estimated $985.4 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, composing 5.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product and employed 11 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2015. Each year, seven out of ten Americans donate to at least one charitable cause. Contributions are from two to 20 times higher in the U.S. than in other countries of comparable wealth and modernity.


See also

*
Advocacy group Advocacy groups, also known as special interest groups, use various forms of advocacy Advocacy is an activity Activity may refer to: * Action (philosophy), in general * Human activity: human behavior, in sociology behavior may refer to al ...
*
Foundation (nonprofit organization) A foundation (also a charitable foundation) is a category of nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and ...
*
International organization An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states and other actors in the international system. Organizations ...
*
Mission-based organization Mission-based organization is often used as an alternative to terms such as non-profit and non-governmental organization. Mission-based organizations range from formally incorporation (business), incorporated foundation (charity), foundations and p ...
*
Philanthropy Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a list of specialized agencies of th ...

Philanthropy
* Social economy *
Social entrepreneurship Social entrepreneurship is an approach by individuals, groups, start-up companies or entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is the creation or extraction of value. With this definition, entrepreneurship is viewed as change, generally entailing risk ...
*
Three-sector model The three-sector model in economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytolo ...
*
Volunteer Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on an ...

Volunteer
*
Volunteerism Volunteering is a voluntary act of an individual or group freely giving time and labour for community service. Many volunteers are specifically trained in the areas they work, such as medicine, education, or emergency rescue. Others serve on ...
Examples: * Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations * Community Sector Coalition * National Council for Voluntary Organisations * Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action * Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations * Wales Council for Voluntary Action * The Citizens Advice service * 4x4 Response


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Voluntary Sector Social philosophy Non-profit organizations Volunteering Economic sectors