How can we define the third sector?

Third Sector Impact is a research project that aims to understand the scope and scale of the third sector in Europe, its current and potential impact, and the barriers hindering the third sector to fully contribute to the continent's welfare.

Working areas


Clarify the concept of the third sector in its European manifestations.


Identify the major contours of the third sector to define its size, structure, composition.


Identify third sector impact, its contributions to European economy and social cohesion.


Identify barriers and solutions to third sector development.

About us

The Third Sector Impact Community consists of the project coordinator, the research consortium, the advisory boards as well as more than 100 national and European stakeholders.

Where we work

Pavol Frič
Pavol Frič
  • Advisory board

Antonella Noya
Antonella Noya
  • Advisory board



Add to Calendar11-09-2016 09:00:0011-09-2016 06:00:0040TSI Final Conference, 9 November 2016 in Brussels: The Third Sector - A renewable resource for addressing Europe’s challengesEvent Details 9 November 2016 EESC, Room VMA 3 Rue Belliard 99, Brussels Belgium Event Description The Third Sector: A renewable resource for addressing Europe’s challenges – An action agenda During the final conference of the Third Sector Impact (TSI) project we will share results and policy recommendations following three years of research and intensive stakeholder engagement. An amazing diversity of stakeholders from 9 countries with whom TSI cooperated throughout the past two and a half years will join us, as well as policy makers from EU and national levels. We will focus on the scope of the third sector, elaborate what can be said about its impact on social, economic and political life, focus on resilience strategies adopted by TSOs to deal with old and new barriers and look at policies that can support the sector to continue to be a strong force in society. 9.00     Registration opens 9.30     Introduction to TSI by Bernard Enjolras, TSI Project Coordinator Keynote Third Sector – its contributions to Europe’s future Gerry Salole, Chief Executive European Foundation Center, 10.00   First panel debate Putting the third sector on the statistical map of Europe Lester M. Salamon, Head of TSI Measurement Group Luc Tayart de Borms, King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium Christina Ramos, National Accounts Department Portugal Jean-Christophe Burkel, Director of SSE Union Luxemburg Risto Raivio, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Moderation: Ewa Les, TSI Poland 11.15   Coffee Break 11.30   Second panel debate: Assessing the impact of the third sector in Europe: Concepts and evidence Karl Henrik Sivesind, Head of TSI Impact Group Ariane Rodert, Vice-President EESC Group III Margaret Carroll, Policy Specialist at UN Volunteers Moderation: Ruth Simsa, TSI Austria 12.30   TSI in dialogue with EU policy Jens Nilsson, MEP, Rafael Chaves, TSI Spain, Jeremy Kendall, TSI UK 13.00   Lunch 14.15   Third Panel: Times are changing: Hurdles of TSOs effected by environmental changes Annette Zimmer and Benedikt Pahl, TSI Barriers Group Carlos Susias, EAPN-ES, Third Sector Platform, Spain Franz Neunteufl, Interest Group of Public Benefit Organisations, Austria Sir Stuart Etherington, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, UK Chair Gojko Bezovan, TSI Croatia 15.00   Fish bowl Strategies of resilience Annette Zimmer and Benedikt Pahl, TSI Barriers Group Jany Hansal, DESA Dubrovnik, Croatia And others Moderation: Francesca Petrella, TSI France 15.45     Coffee Break 16.10   Fourth Panel Policy Recommendations: How to enhance TSO impact? Ruth Simsa, TSI Impact Group Hugues Sibille, President Credit Cooperatif Foundation and SSE Lab, France Matthijs Terpstra, Netherlands Center for Social Development - Movisie Wojciech Kaczmarczyk, Director of the Department of Civil Society, Poland Moderation: Ulla Pape, TSI Netherlands 17.00 Final Comment The road ahead: toward a renewal strategy for the third sector in Europe Bernard Enjolras, TSI Project Coordinator 17:15   Conference closes   What is the third sector? Definitions, both in research and policy, differ from country to country, making it difficult to really compare third sector activity. TSI researchers from nine EU countries collaborated on a definition that goes beyond existing frameworks. It encompasses welfare, voluntary associations and aspects of social economy, thus taking a holistic view. What does the third sector contribute? An important question not only funders are interested in but also the people working within the sector who try to make a contribution towards positive change. TSI defined clear measurement guidelines for statistical agencies to implement to capture the scope of volunteering, the number of people employed, to contribution to GDP etc. What are the specific impacts of the third sector? The third sector plays a major role in maintaining healthy communities, fostering well-being, advocacy and citizen participation. TSI has made significant progress towards developing impact indicators that capture such aspects of social life that are a unique quality of the sector. Pressure to put a market value to everything does not capture all the sector can do. What barriers is the sector facing? The third sector in Europe is confronted with a number of new challenges that range from lack of funding and inadequate frameworks, from lack of public trust to changes how people decide to devote their time. However, if we want the third sector to play a role in addressing future challenges we need policy makers to acknowledge not only the value of the sector, but also the necessity of structural support. We are expecting national and EU policy makers and third sector stakeholders working at both levels. We will look at the future challenges Europe will face, the role third sector organisations can play in addressing or alleviating the impacts of such challenges, and the policy support they need. Participation in this event is by invitation only.  Brussels rue belliardTSI ProjectDD/MM/YYYY

Who is concerned with the third sector?

If you are a practitioner, policy-maker, researcher, statistician, journalist or citizen interested in the third sector, we are gathering information for you.

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