There would be no third sector without active citizens. At the same time participation in third sector organizations strengthens citizenship. Citizens working in or interested in the third sector can find relevant documentation on these pages, helping to:

  • boost public awareness of the third sector and the role it plays;
  • give greater recognition to the millions of European citizens who volunteer regularly for Third Sector organizations or through helping relationships with friends and neighbours;
  • raise general awareness of the importance of the third sector and volunteering for the socio-economic development of Europe;
  • sustain European traditions of solidarity and engagement with third sector institutions and the transmission of these values to the younger generation.


Climate change and sustainable welfare: the centrality of human needs
Research has shown that more equal societies are also those where citizens are more willing to balance their self-interest with the interests of others. This report demonstrates that the strong neoliberal emphasis on consumer preferences rather than human needs leads to a culture of consumerism, unsustainable business practices and rising inequalities. Third sector organisations and initiatives are needs-focussed and thus address inequality, well-being, lack of public service innovation, etc.

Franca Maino and Maurizio Ferrera (eds): First Report on Second Welfare in Italy 2013
The crisis of the traditional public systems of social protection has spurred the search for new ways to respond to citizens’ needs. This report refers to initiatives carried out by companies, associations, foundations and other third sector organisations that the authors of the study count under the definition of second welfare. It describes its achievements, promises and pitfalls, offers insight in the status quo of the Italian welfare state in transformation and adds a comparative perspective to Europe.
The full report in Italian is available here.

Satellite account for non-profit institutions in Norway, 2012
The Satellite account for non-profit institutions, published on December 3rd, 2014 not only shows the growth of employment in the non-profit sector in Norway compared to for-profit and public sectors, it also includes the funding of non-profit institutions’ activities.
View the English version here.


Background Reading Policy

How to facilitate civil society participation in Europe?
A recommendation by German TSI stakeholder B-B-E (in German)

The Enabling State: A discussion paper
In the context of global financial shocks, ageing populations and climate change, many feel that it is the time to look afresh at the relationship between society and government.  How can the state take on a new role as facilitator and enabler of individual and community capacity to shape public services and improve societal well-being? This discussion paper contains a broad analysis of the debate in the UK.


Background Reading on Third Sector Impacts

Landscapes of helping: Kindliness in neighbourhoods and communities
This report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) argues for the “reinvention of sociality – the development of ways in which people create and maintain trust and relationships which foster kindliness”. The report distinguishes between kindliness based on older moral notions of obligation and self-sacrifice, and kindliness based on more “individualist teachings of modern society”. It argues that the pursuit of collective interests can be motivated by self-interest as well as altruism, preparing the ground for interdependence and mutuality.

Economy for the common good
An economy for the common good meets the needs of every person in society and keeps inequalities to a minimum. Business practice rests on values of human dignity and sustainability, while also seeking profits. Researchers and the EU also refer to social economy. TSI’s definition of the third sector in Europe includes parts of the social economy.