Work Area Description

Few countries regularly generate systematic empirical data on any substantial portion of the third sector.  Those who do tend to utilize national legal definitions, thus making  comparative study difficult. TSI will propose statistical tools to measure the third sector in Europe, working from the following methodological assumptions:

  • Measures of scale must take into account the special characteristics of the third sector, namely the fact that much of its activity is undertaken for other than purely renumerative objectives. Financial measures do not exhaust the sector’s features.
  • Given the rather fluid character of the sector and the limitations of existing data sources, measures may include the number of entities as much as the human resources that these organizations engage.
  • Special attention was given to the selection of countries in this project to provide solid insight into regional and national variations.
  • Measures must be able to differentiate the various components of the European third sector in terms of fields of activity and of institutional type (e.g., associations, foundations, cooperatives, mutuals, social enterprises etc.).

Objectives and Goals

Third Sector Impact will deliver a broader set of indicators of the social and economic impacts of the third sector and volunteering in Europe by developing comparable statistical machinery. To the extent possible, TSI will make use of standard international activity classifications in order to integrate third sector measurement into existing European statistical systems.

Third Sector Impact’s goal is:

  • Institutionalisation of critical data generation on scale, structure, and development of the European third sector;
  • Initiation of the development of suitable measures of third sector impact, thus going beyond basic descriptive data.
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