Social enterprises play a significant role in the promotion of general interest activities: fair trade, employment services, social housing and the provision of micro-loans. After the 2016 reform, powers and duties of the abolished Agency for the Third Sector are exercised by the Ministry of Welfare. The significant increase in the number of voluntary organizations can be associated with the law on the recognition of non -rofit organizations as official partners of local authorities for programming and implementing social assistance programs. Voluntary organizations that are registered in the regional registries can participate in calls for tenders issued by local authorities. However, understanding and complying with legal obligations is a struggle for small charity trustees who are reluctant to register on the national data base.

The report issued by the WISS Lab. for the Italian Parliament Commission will contribute to increase clarification of what the third sector entails. One of the aims is to create a repository of digitalized information of third sector organizations about their activities, aims, funding sources and inter-organizational relationships. The collected data will allow to track changes and trends and the analysis of the data will focus on understanding organizational change, innovation, survival, growth and financial success.

The report was presented on the occasion of a workshop at Sant’Anna School promoted by the Istituto Dirpolis (Law, Politics, Delopment) and the Foundation “PNP – Profit non Profit” – Milan.

By early July, the Italian Parliament Commission working on the third sector policy and the review of the current regulation is expected to implement secondary legislation, such as making implementation of the new recommended practice mandatory for all non-profit organizations.

“It is necessary a more open debate over the reform”, said Emanuele Rossi, professor of constitutional law and the deputy rector of Sant’Anna School, together with Luca Gori, researcher at WISS Lab., who supervised the report. “The third sector reform should develop the notion of interdependence. Governments need to explore the major changes in state and third sector relationship. They particularly need to focus on the scope and limits of volunteering, the new models for ownership of organizations and property and more importantly on the marketization of public services and its consequences for third sector organizations. The current object is the restructuring of sectoral and institutional arrangements, not the balancing of social interests concerned with the redistribution of resources”.

 “As a public institution partnered with the foundation ‘PNP – Profit Non Profit’,  – said Emanuele Rossi – we intended to support this process of change, and examine how the notions of charity and community become affected by the developments of neoliberalism”.