The term ‘third sector’ has been used for probably about a couple of decades. Does anyone think that the ‘third sector’ is a derogatory term? Which sector is more important than the other?
Apparently the first sector is the private sector, the second sector is the public sector and the voluntary and charitable sector is lumbered with the title of ‘third sector’. The amazing part of this is the voluntary and charitable sector is quite happy to use that term and has bought into this rather condescending title.
The first sector is the private sector and yet it cannot function without approval from the public sector, which apparently is the second sector. Can you see one flaw already in this categorisation? How this categorisation even started is something that, quite frankly, I cannot be bothered to find out through an internet search.
Third sector is a terrible term, as is the third world. We have all heard the term ‘second-class citizen’ which is used to define a person who is deemed to be inferior. Then what is a third-class citizen, someone inferior to a second-class citizen? Using that logic then the third sector is the inferior to the public and private sector.
The condescending term does not reflect what actually goes on in the voluntary and charitable sector. Financial management is often tightly run with good services delivered on tight budgets. There are people working in this sector with excellent negotiation skills, have created innovative practices, deliver fast responsive services, have exemplar project management skills, motivate staff working in challenging circumstances, posses ‘can-do’ attitudes and are self-starters.
This is a sector continually driving for excellence and often out-performing anything similar delivered by the public or private sectors. It is time to ditch the term ‘third sector’ for something that truly reflects how marvellous this sector is.