In recent years there has been growing political and theoretical focus upon the contribution of nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations within modern market-based democracies. Increasingly governments look to nonprofit organizations, charities, cooperatives or social enterprises to provide remedies to social problems; at the same time voluntary organizations within civil society seek to regulate and to change the behaviors of governments and of the market.

This course aims to provide students with conceptual frameworks to understand what the nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations’ roles are and how organized civil society and the third sector function in developed economies. It seeks to explore the history and the theoretical function and contribution of such organizations, and also some of the challenges of governance and accountability.

The course draws in particular upon literature and research of European countries and the United States.

On completion of the course students will understand:

  • history and traditions of philanthropy, voluntary and nonprofit organizations
  • central concepts such as charity, philanthropy, volunteering, voluntary and community organizations and sector, nonprofit, third sector, civil society, social capital, corporate philanthropy, ethics, fundraising
  • the significance and functions of the nonprofit and voluntary sector in public policy
  • relationships of the nonprofit and voluntary sector with government and the private sector
  • the role of third sector organizations in national and international level