These unique “renewable resources” for social and economic problem-solving and civic engagement in Europe are needed more than ever at this time of social and economic distress and enormous pressures on governmental budgets—not as an alternative to government but third sector as fully-fledged partner in the effort to promote European progress. We need a clearer understanding of the third sector’s scope and scale, its existing and potential impact, and the barriers to it fully contributing to common welfare in Europe to be able to take full advantage of this resource.
Building on our previous work, this project seeks to:
- Clarify the concept of the third sector in its European manifestations;
- Identify the major contours of the sector so defined—its size, structure, composition, sources of support, and recent trends;
- Identify the forms of impact of this sector, its contributions to European economic development, innovation, citizen well-being, civic engagement, and human development, and to create capabilities to measure these contributions into the future;
- Identify barriers both internal to organizations and external to them and suggest ways these barriers might be overcome; and
- Forge a partnership between the research community and European third sector practitioners so that the understanding of the third sector generated by this work remains grounded in reality and enjoy sufficient support among key stakeholders to ensure respectful attention from policy makers and sector leaders long after the project is completed.
More about the project in www.thirdsectorimpact.eu