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Sector Categories


Based on their activities, organizations can be grouped into three sectors: public, private and non-profit. The terms "non-profit" and "voluntary" sector are often used interchangeably or in conjunction with each other, because almost all of them rely on volunteers to achieve their respective goals. Generally, the voluntary sector includes self-governing organizations that do not generate profits for shareholders, are non-governmental, and are formed with an organizational structure.

Established voluntary organizations often have paid staff or contractors to run programs, administrate, fund raise, complete targeted projects, and build the organizationís infrastructure so they can keep their doors open, but they still need and benefit from the efforts of volunteers.

Bigs and littlesSome organizations are simultaneously a non-profit and a registered charity. Before an organization can become a registered charity, it must first be a non-profit organization and then it may apply to become a charity. Thousands of non-profit organizations exist that are not registered charities. Registered charities include social service organizations, places of worship, private and public foundations, educational institutions such as universities, hospitals, and a charitable organization that benefit the community as a whole, such as environmental protection and protecting cruelty to animals. If using the International Classification of Non-profit Organizations (INCPO) there are 15 classification categories. For every kind of humanistic endeavour, there is a non-profit organization that falls into the INCPO classification.

For an in-depth study of Canadaís non-profit/voluntary sector, please refer to Cornerstones of Community: Highlights of the National Survey of Non-profit and Voluntary Organizations. This excellent resource "provides the first national portrait of the many thousands of non-profit and voluntary organizations that are the cornerstones of Canadian communities."
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Volunteerism in Alberta: 100 years of Celebrating Community

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