Event Details

24 November 2015
Institute for Social Research
Munthes gate 31
0260 Oslo, Norway
9:00 – 10:30 am

Event Description

The Norwegian TSI team at the Institute for Social Research in Oslo presented TSI during a breakfast seminar to around 80 stakeholders from umbrella organizations, national organizations and others to discuss the TSI conceptualization of the third sector in Europe, its political implications in Norway and the Norwegian third sector fabric.

Stakeholders responded positively to the TSI definition of the third sector in Europe, as many feel that there are too many concepts of the voluntary sector in use in policy-making in Norway. A simplified approach would therefore be a step in the right direction. However, as TSO’s Karl Henrik Sivesind pointed out, it is not just a question of defining the sector. A concept must also take the different kinds of support arrangements and economic advantages directed at different target groups into account, such as VAT-compensation, the right to arrange lotteries, getting funding from surplus of games, tax-exemption on gifts etc. Although there is room for simplification, it is not realistic to assume that all third sector organizations should have equal access to all these kinds of support.

On the other hand, some stakeholders were worried that the third sector definition was too wide compared to the traditional understanding of the voluntary sector in Norway, which has a core of member-based organizations with strong input from volunteers. TSI project coordinator Bernard Enjolras pointed out that a definition claiming to cover different traditions and legal categories in Europe must include cooperatives, mutuals and social enterprises, but that it is important to exclude organizations that exist for the purpose of extracting profit. Demarcation criteria of the third sector that are unequivocal are not only important to be able to measure size and composition of the third sector in different countries in Europe, but also to make visible the barriers this sector faces in realizing its potential impact. The third sector definition is important in order to define the target groups for EU-policies oriented towards the social economy, social enterprises and nonprofit organizations.

There were also questions about the understanding of individual contribution to the third sector: Why exclude activity for one’s own enjoyment like playing in an orchestra? Sivesind explained that this is in line with the understanding of volunteering in daily life and in research: Normal participation in activities or meetings in an organization is not volunteering. Volunteers make the participation of others possible through leading meetings, instruction, transportation etc. However, it is possible to target participation in organized activities and volunteering through different survey measures. Enjolras underlined that the important addition of the ILO-based definition is that volunteering includes also unpaid work for people outside the household, not just organizations. However, the TSI third sector definition excludes next of kin, such as parents or children living outside the household.


09.00: Welcome – Guro Ødegård

09.10: Conceptualization of the third sector in Europe – Bernard Enjolras

9.30: Private contributions to the third sector in Norway – Karl Henrik Sivesind

10.00: Open floor and discussion

Europe has long harbored a rich associational life outside the contours of the market and the state, but the lacking of a definition that calls attention to their commonalities, the various components of the third sector- nonprofits, foundations, cooperatives and mutual, social enterprises and volunteering- is robbing Europe of a coherent overview of the third sectors scope and impact and weakening the sectors overall policy voice. TSI researchers have now formulated a consensus conceptualization of this third sector of citizen activity, which provides a basis for gauging its impact and fostering policies that build on its unique strengths.

The Third Sector in Norway generates a large share of the income from its own activities. Between 50 and 65 percent comes from private households, for organization categories outside of the welfare service area. However, income from donations has been more moderate. With increased disposable income for people in general and a large number of private fortunes generated through the oil-age, this may change. Karl Henrik Sivesind has analyzed economy and sources of income for the nonprofit sector since the first Hopkins-study in Norway in 1997. He demonstrated how private contributions to voluntary organizations, from donations, foundations, games, lotteries, and volunteering, have changed.

The event was held in Norwegian. Contact Signe Bock Segaard for more information.