Business news

Third Sector contributes £2.4bn to NI economy

Posted By:
Co3 Chief Officers 3rd Sector

4th Oct 2022

– Major research study launched by CO3 –

A new report commissioned by CO3, the representative body for leaders across charitable and other third sector organisations across Northern Ireland, has commissioned independent research which shows the sector contributes £2.4bn to the local economy. The report ‘Valuing Our Sector’ was launched today by CO3 at a major conference in Belfast.

Other key findings in the study are:

  • 37,425 people are employed in the third sector
  • Over 92,000 people act as volunteers or trustees on charitable organisations
  • The combined annual salary across the sector is £1bn

The report also assessed the challenges faced by Third Sector locally in the wake of Covid and the current cost of living crisis. Current sources of funding are mapped within the report with 36% of income coming from Government sources in the form of grant funding or contracted work. In the face of current difficulties the sector remains ambitious, with 46% of organisations planning to increase the service they offer in the years ahead.

Valerie McConville, Chief Executive of CO3 explained why the report is so timely.

“In our own sector we of course recognise the value of the work done and services delivered by charities and other groups, large and small, right across Northern Ireland and now is the time to ensure that the wider world also gains an insight into the significance of the role we play.

“Our sector faces very real challenges. The cumulative impact of increased demand on our services, aligned to reduced funding and resources creates a stress which is in danger of becoming the new post pandemic normal for the third sector.

“Covid, the lockdowns, vastly reduced fundraising opportunities and a cost of living crisis all create a huge pressure on our organisations. Against this backdrop Northern Ireland remains politically paralysed, with no local Ministers taking new funding decisions or implementing new policies. All of that means that there is no better time to examine and highlight the role played by third sector organisations.

In this report we have highlighted the contribution made to the local economy and to society by all of our organisations. What shines through from the feedback and interviews is our passion and ambition. CO3 members and the organisations they represent are job creators who help the economy run; they are health & wellbeing advocates who are transforming the lives of patients and families; they are the ‘shock absorber’ to support people in tough times; they are the backbone of communities. Day and daily they are doing not just good work, but great work.

“It’s time now to talk about the value of our sector.”

The report, ‘Valuing Our Sector’ was commissioned by CO3 and undertaken by communications and advocacy company, MW Advocate.

The report can be downloaded from CO3 website

The Valuing Our Sector conference takes place Thursday 29th September in La Mon Hotel.