Third Sector? Does it really exist?
The Charity world is often referred to as the 'Third Sector', but as time goes by I am really beginning to question its existence as a cohesive sector, and wonder if it is a good idea to group together charities in this way.
After all, what does the World Land Trust (WLT) have in common with a National Health Service Trust, a military benevolent fund or a fundamentalist church? In fact, our mission is in many ways directly opposed to the mission of some charities. I read the charity press and get invited to numerous conferences and other meetings, but only very rarely do they have the slightest relevance to the interests of the World Land Trust. Of course managing a gift aid collection scheme will apply across the so-called Third Sector, but I also see huge differences in approach across the sector, and I generally feel much more at home working with for-profit businesses than most other charities. And as for the concept that charities need to become more effective, by learning from the business world, this is surely a bit of a joke, since we operate on a 15% overhead -- which is effectively making an 85% profit -- something most businesses would die for. Actually not strictly true, but it does illustrate a point.
It is, in my view high time that the environmental charities dissociated themselves from the rest of the charity world -- they share very little with organisations like Christian Aid, or the Royal Opera House -- and instead of joining in the annual conventions, back slapping awards etc, should get together only with like-minded charities, sharing similar underlying philosophies, and perhaps make the world move a bit faster. What do you think?