It is highly diverse, taking in charities, not-for-profit and co-operative organisations, delivering services to others or, in other cases, mutual benefit. It operates using a wide range of legal forms.
Independent voluntary organisations are the backbone of civil society and a vital indicator of democratic health. They involve people individually and collectively with memberships ranging from a handful to millions. The independent Commission on the Future of the Voluntary Sector in England, set up by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has produced its report which sets out an agenda for future action. Its key points are summarised here.