Third Sector Policy at the Crossroads: An International Non-Profit Analysis

Third Sector Policy at the Crossroads: An International Non-Profit Analysis

Third Sector Policy at the Crossroads: An International Non-Profit Analysis

Third Sector Policy at the Crossroads: An International Non-Profit Analysis

Synopsis

This book explores key policy issues for the non-profit sector against a background of increasing competition, new public management and ever decreasing budgets.

Excerpt

This volume presents a collection of essays that explore the current policy environment of nonprofit, voluntary or nongovernmental organizations in a broad cross-section of countries. the general underlying thesis guiding both the conception of this volume as well as the structure of individual chapters is the general notion or assessment that the nonprofit sector finds itself at a crucial juncture or crossroads. the reasons why nonprofit sectors seemingly are in crises or facing critical challenges are varied, as the contributions to this volume demonstrate. But a significant factor in most countries is the economic growth the sector experienced in many countries over the last two decades, in particular since 1990, twinned with a possible flattening or even decline in its traditional reliance on volunteers and charitable donations.

These shifts have taken place against a backdrop of mixed messages from governments, with ample supportive rhetoric often not matched, and sometimes even contradicted by, ambivalence in policies and their implementation. These developments, implying both greater economic importance and at least symbolic political recognition, have turned nonprofit organizations from somewhat marginal actors to more central, sometimes even major, policy players. Against this background, the purpose of the present volume is to throw light on the nature of the crossroads confronting the nonprofit sector, and explore the dilemmas, opportunities and problems involved. We suggest that - depending on how policymakers and nonprofit actors will react to these challenges, and what choices they will ultimately make in confronting them - the future development of the nonprofit sector will be set on a different course.

In approaching the nature of these crossroads and challenges, it is useful to recall some basic facts about the significant change in the importance of the third sector in recent years. in 1995, nonprofit organizations accounted for 6.9 per cent of total employment in western Europe and 7.8 per cent in the United States (Salamon et al. 1999). Between 1990 and 1995, the sector grew by an average of 24 per cent in major oecd countries like the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Japan. in other parts of the world, the economic scale of the sector is significantly lower. the third sector in those countries from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) represented in this study

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