The Third Sector is an important, but hitherto under-valued and under-researched sector of societies, political systems and economies. ANZTSR arose from the growing awareness of the importance of the Third Sector in Australia and New Zealand, and paucity of reliable information about it and the difficulty of working as isolated researchers.
A brief history of ANZTSR is available here .
The Third Sector is constituted by all those organisations that are not-for-profit and non-government, together with the activities of volunteering and giving which sustain them. These organisations are a major component of many industries including community health services, rural, education, housing, sport and recreation, culture and finance.
Although they differ amongst themselves, third sector organisations differ as a group from for-profit businesses and from government departments and authorities.
Third Sector organisations vary greatly in size and in their activities. They include neighbourhood associations, sporting clubs, recreation societies, community associations, chambers of commerce, churches, religious orders, credit unions, political parties, trade unions, trade and professional associations, private schools, charitable trusts and foundations, some hospitals, welfare organisations and even some large insurance companies.
The Third Sector is gaining recognition in most countries as an important but hitherto undervalued and under-researched sector of society and of the economy. The experience of Eastern European countries has led many to recognise that third sector organisations are key institutions in civil society.
Many terms are used to refer to third sector organisations in different industries and countries. These include non-profit, non-government, community, voluntary, club, society, association, cooperative, friendly society, church, union, foundation and society.
The name Third Sector has gained international acceptance as a positive and inclusive term.