Engaging with the third sector

Engaging with a third sector organisation can be a really good way to impact on public policy. You'll be working with an organisation that has specialised knowledge in the field and access to many different user groups and sector contacts. Because of their 'in-between' nature, third sector organisations are often highly-networked, and very open and accustomed to working with partner organisations.

Third sector organisations are a bit like universities (in fact, many universities are charities). They're not-for-profit organisations that are not public institutions, but they do work we might think of as 'for the public', and they may receive some of their funding from government. They may also provide services on behalf of the government. This means that, like universities, they can work alongside or even with government agencies very effectively: they have close relationships with many difference agencies, but are also independent. Third sector and academic collaborations can be very effective, as Alice Thwaite, Director of the charity Equal Arts, explains:

This guide will consider in more detail a number of the issues Alice touches on, in the following sections:

What is the third sector and what does it do?
Working with the third sector
UK think tanks

Ypu might also want to read the case study Governance, elections, and borders in North-East Africa, which describes how working with the international think-tank the Rift Valley Institute allowed Professor Justin Willis to help shape international policy in North East Africa.