What is the voluntary and community sector (VCS)?
Community groups, registered charities, voluntary organisations, faith organisations, non-profit making organisations, co-operatives, or social enterprises are all part of the voluntary and community sector.
There is some confusion around the nature of the sector regarding terminology. It has been known as the 'third sector', 'not-for-profit sector', the 'voluntary, community and faith sector' (VCFS), the 'voluntary sector' or even the voluntary, community and third sector (VC3S). Sensitivity around terminology (for instance ranking it as the 'third' rather than 'first' sector) and a lack of understanding about what the sector entails, adds to the confusion.
Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCOs) are generally self-governing, often rely on volunteers and are driven by social benefit, rather than money. They may deliver public services,advocate/lobby on behalf of community causes, facilitate international, community and economic development, advance religious faith and practice or raise funds for just causes.