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The Third Sector

'The Third Sector' is an umbrella term covering various organisations with different structures and purposes, belonging neither to the public sector (i.e., the state) nor the private sector (profit-making private enterprise). You may have heard other terms used to describe such organisations – the voluntary sector, non-governmental organisations, non-profit organisations – particularly in public

discussions around policy and politics. However, these terms all represent organisations that share the same fundamental elements:


Independent from Government

Although they often work with or alongside government agencies and may receive government funding or commissions, third sector organisations are separate from the Government.

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Non Profit

Third sector organisations raise funds and generate financial surpluses to invest in social, environmental, or cultural objectives. They do not seek to make profits as an end in its own right.



Third sector organisations pursue specific goals which are often aligned with particular social and political perspectives. They may be associated with or work with political parties, but a political party is not a third sector organisation.