The third sector, consisting of civil society associations and foundations, volunteers, and other citizen organisations and activities, offers unique renewable and sustainable resources for social and economic problem-solving, democracy, and civic engagement in Europe. In times of social and economic distress and enormous pressures on governmental budgets this sector is an important partner in the effort to promote economic development and social cohesion in Europe.
To take full advantage of this resource we need a clearer understanding of the third sector – its scope and scale, existing and potential impacts, and barriers to full third sector contribution to the continent’s common welfare. Third Sector Impact (TSI) brings together researchers from 8 European countries in a comparative project, determined to address questions of third sector definition, measurement, impact assessment and ways to support its development. It includes a distinctive stakeholder engagement process to capture the insights of practitioners and include them in conceptualization, methodology and project outputs.