Third Sector Impact will contribute to third sector research by providing conceptual clarifications, consensus measures, and solid data. It will compensate for weaknesses in how research on the third sector is presently done and thereby stimulate more research and debate on the sector and its impacts after the project is completed. Researchers can find relevant documentations on:

  • a broad working definition of the third sector and volunteering to include social economy and social enterprises in addition to non-profit institutions;
  • reliable and comparable statistical data organized around this new working definition to use in their work;
  • regular resulting data regarding third sector organizations and volunteering on a regular basis;
  • size, structure, composition, sources of support and recent changes of third sector organizations and volunteering;
  • previous research on the third sector’s impact on society at large (macro perspective) and on paid staff and volunteers (micro perspective) to facilitate clarifying concepts, identifying promising techniques, and highlighting critical gaps that other scholars can usefully begin to fill;
  • consensus indicators of third sector impact on well-being and quality of life, innovation, civic engagement and empowerment, economic progress, social inclusion, and human resources that can be incorporated into existing social and other surveys in order to permit cross-country and cross- temporal comparisons.
  • testing theoretical assumptions about the causes of variation in third sector impacts through comparative analysis of selected European countries
  • creating and enriching higher education courses taught by the partners at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and providing important new sources of data for PhD students and young researchers.


Social Enterprise and the Third Sector. Changing European Landscapes in a Comparative Perspective
Jacques Defourny, Lars Hulgård, Victor Pestoff, Routledge 2014

This book presents the most comprehensive set of contributions reflecting the European-wide debate of concepts about social enterprise and the third sector, but with frequent connections to developments in other parts of the world. It is a resource for both researchers and practitioners.
Read more.


Measuring the Performance of Voluntary Organisations
Jeremy Kendall, Martin Knapp, Public Management, Vol 2, Issue 1, 2000, 105-132

The primary aim of this article is to develop criteria for measuring the ‘performance’ of voluntary organizations. This is undertaken by marrying relevant international theoretical literature suggestive of their roles and contributions with a ‘production of welfare’ approach, which has a proven track record in the evaluation of human services. Eight domains of performance are suggested (economy, effectiveness, efficiency choice /pluralism; equity; participation; innovation and advocacy), embracing twenty-two separate indicator sets. This article is available for download:
Kendall_Knapp_2000_Measuring the Performance of Voluntary Organisations

Measuring Social Consequences of Non-Profit Institution Activities: A Research Note
S. Wojciech Sokolowski, The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, Working Paper 50, February 2014

This paper proposes a model of a standardized measurement of social benefits created by NPI activities for the purpose of macro-economic analysis. The proposed model draws from the program logic model and the supply and use and input/output tables used in the System of National Accounts. It is based on standard definitions of NPI central products (material output) and social beneficiaries of those products (outcomes), and allocates quantitative shares of those products to different types of beneficiaries. Seven material output/outcome matrices for the industries in which NPIs tend to concentrate areproposed: education, health care, social assistance, housing construction and services, communitydevelopment, culture, arts and recreation and membership organizations. The paper is available for download:
WP50_Sokolowski_Measuring Social Consequences of Non-Profit Institution Activities

The Nonprofit Sector: For What and for Whom?
Salamon, Lester M., Leslie C. Hems, and Kathryn Chinnock The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, Working Paper 37, 2000

The purpose of this paper is to discuss ways to assess the impact of the nonprofit sector in a systematic fashion in close to 40 countries throughout the world. The discussion begins by sketching the criteria that any such assessment should strive to meet. It then outlines the approach utilized to meet these criteria, and finally summarizes the results of this work.
Six criteria guided impact analysis: beyond outputs; systematic; more than a celebration; theory-based; relative impact; comparative. The paper is avaliable for download:
Salamon Nonprofit Sector: For What and for Whom?

Impact Reports

Review of evidence on the outcomes of youth volunteering, social action and leadership
This review by the Institute for Volunteering Research brings together existing evidence on the outcomes of youth volunteering, social action and leadership and on the metrics which can be used to measure them.

Stakeholder Reports

A quantitative study by TSI national stakeholder organisation France Bénévolat on the development of volunteering in non-profit associations in France between 2010 and 2016 shows a steady growth in the number of volunteers, especially among people below the age of 35.  However, older people are less engaged than in the past.
L’évolution de l’engagement bénévole associatif en France, de 2010 à 2016