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The non-profit sector

The non-profit sector, also known as the “voluntary sector” or the “third sector”, consists of private organizations that are philanthropic or operate otherwise on a non-commercial basis. These range from charitable foundations to soup kitchens and sports clubs. The sector is large, of the order of 5 per cent of the typical economy, and makes an important contribution to nearly every field of social activity.

In the context of the rapid ageing and associated budget pressures that most advanced economies will experience for the foreseeable future there is considerable scope for strengthening the effectiveness and the contribution of the non-profit sector. The range of policy domains that impinge on the sector is very wide. Much of the concrete policy action needed to strengthen the policy framework which governs its activities concerns specific areas such as education, social services and arts and culture. But it also relates to horizontal issues that cut across sectors with wide applicability, such as tax, financial reporting and barriers to mobilizing volunteers, especially among retired people.


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