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What are Third Sector Organisations?

The third sector is the term used to describe the range of organisations which are neither state nor the private sector. It includes voluntary and community organisations (both registered charities and other organisations such as associations, self-help groups and community groups), social enterprises, mutuals and co-operatives.

Third sector organisations (TSOs):

  • are independent of government
  • are ‘value-driven’ – that is, they pursue social, environmental or cultural objectives rather than primarily aiming to make a profit
  • reinvest any surpluses in the pursuit of their objectives.

TSOs can take a number of forms, such as charitable voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises, etc [see Annex A: Note on legal forms of TSOs and charitable status].

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