third sector
n. The part of the economy that includes charity and religious work, philanthropy, and volunteerism (cf. public sector and private sector).

Example Citations:
Patrick Johnston, president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, says the sector has to take some of the blame for failing to convey its importance, and inability or unwillingness to speak with a coherent, united voice....

“Governments can‘t do everything; the private sector can‘t or won‘t do things; so we need to think of how to shape the third sector so that it can. The health of our communities depends on meeting that challenge,“ he says.
—Andre Picard, “Governments can‘t do everything for society,“ The Toronto Star, November 15, 1997

Most people understand the role of governments and corporations in society and know the terms “public sector” and “private sector.” However, few people know anything about a third sector of society that is focused on meeting the needs of citizens in communities.

This third sector is called the “civic sector” and includes nonprofit organizations, faith institutions, foundations, private schools, theaters, volunteer groups, sports leagues and any other group not operated by government or corporations that meets local needs.
—Dale G. Caldwell, “America’s civic organizations remain undervalued,” The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), July 9, 1998

Earliest Citation:
John D,. Rockefeller 3d was eulogized Thursday as a philanthropist, gentleman and humanlist whose death this week in an automobile crash cut short a life in which “there was so much more he wanted to do.”

His only son West Virginia Gov. John D. “Jay“ Rockefeller 4th told some 2,000 persons — including 70 family members — at a memorial service that his father was “dignified modest, some said shy” but that he spent his 72 years in service to the community nation and world. A leader in projects promoting international understanding Asian and American art and human rights the elder Rockefeller had completed arrangements last Friday for a two-year study of private non-profit organizations — “the third sector” his son said.
—Eileen Alt Powell, The Associated Press, July 13, 1978

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