UN TSE Sector Handbook Project (UNHB)

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The UN TSE Handbook Project (UNHB) seeks to make the “third or social economy (TSE) sector”—including nonprofit, social economy, and civil society institutions, as well as volunteer work—more visible in official economic statistics around the world in a systematic and reliable fashion. The ultimate goal is to enhance both the understanding and credibility of this important set of institutions and activities and to provide a more solid, empirical foundation for enhancing the contributions it can make to improving the quality of life and solving the pressing social and environmental problems facing people around the world today.
The need for this project arises from the fact that the System of National Accounts (SNA), the official guidance system for the compilation of national economic statistics, does not separately report on third sector institutions and does not even cover much of volunteer work. Rather, most data on third sector institutions are merged with data on other sectors, making the third sector and volunteer work virtually invisible in national economic statistics. The new UN Satellite Account on Nonprofit and Related Institutions and Volunteer Work (hereafter the UN TSE Sector Handbook) developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in cooperation with the United Nations Statistical Division and an international team of experts, seeks to remedy this. To do so, it calls on national statistical offices to prepare regular “satellite accounts” on this set of institutions and activities and provides a standard set of guidelines for doing so as part of existing official economic data-gathering and reporting.
TSE Sector “Satellite Accounts”
“Satellite accounts” reconfigure data already available in various statistical systems to highlight issues or activities not broken out in standard statistical compilations. The new UN TSE Sector Handbook, which updates and replaces the 2002 UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts, recommends the development of Third/Social Economy—or TSE sector—satellite accounts that will cover nonprofit institutions (NPIs), co-operatives, mutual associations, and social enterprises along with both direct and organization-based volunteer work. As outlined more fully in the Handbook, the institutions considered in-scope of these TSE sector satellite accounts must be: 1) self-governing—not controlled by government; 2) not compulsory; and 3) subject to some significant limitation on their distribution of profits. Building on a companion International Labour Organization Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, the volunteer activity considered in-scope must be unpaid, of benefit to persons other than the volunteer or that person’s household or family, undertaken without compulsion, and be of meaningful duration (i.e., at least one hour) in a 4-week reference period.
What will we learn?
Implementation of this TSE Sector Handbook will produce a quantum leap forward in the basic information available on TSE institutions and activities. Among the features that will finally become visible are:

  • The number of TSE sector institutions, by type of institution and major field of activity.
  • The number of TSE sector workers, both paid and volunteer.
  • The “value added” by TSE sector organizations.
  • The value of volunteer work, both direct and organization-based, by field.
  • TSE sector operating expenditures.
  • Sources of TSE sector revenue, including philanthropy, fees, and government support.
  • The size and distribution of foundation grants.

Covered by these data are NPIs and volunteering in such fields as community development, economic development, education, health care, social services, environmental protection, human rights, advocacy, sports, grant-making, business and professional representation, arts and culture, labor, and many more. Also included will be cooperatives, mutual associations, and social enterprises in such fields as finance, trade, manufacturing, and human services.
The remaining challenge
Because implementation of this Handbook is optional, and because its greatest value can be derived through implementation in the largest possible number of countries, the UNSD has authorized the Center to launch a global dissemination, technical assistance, and implementation campaign to ensure effective implementation and create a mechanism to assemble and report the results. Workshops on the implementation of the TSE Sector Handbook for TSE leaders and statistical officials are being organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. Countries considering developing satellite accounts should visit our Project Resources page and contact the staff at our Center to discuss training and technical assistance options.
From the UN NPI Handbook to the UN TSE Sector Handbook
The 2018 TSE Sector Handbook updates and expands upon the UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts (UN NPI Handbook). Developed by the Center in cooperation with an international team of statistical experts, and approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 2002, the UN NPI Handbook offers countries a standard set of guidelines for highlighting the the nonprofit sector so that it can be seen and analyzed as a distinct sector in national economic accounts. The resulting “satellite accounts on non-profit institutions” pull together a comprehensive and reliable picture of the civil society sector, making it possible to gauge its contribution and track its evolution over time. As part of this process, statistical agencies are also called on to estimate the scale and value of the volunteer work these organizations mobilize and to include this in estimates of economic activity.
The Center and the United Nations Statistical Division undertook the revision of this NPI Handbook drawing on the experiences and lessons-learned from countries that have implemented the Handbook. While the new TSE Sector Handbook does not alter the definition of a nonprofit institution, it provides additional guidance to permit the extension of the resulting satellite accounts to include a broader conception of the “third sector” that includes at least some of the emerging “social economy” and “social enterprise” entities, as well as some forms of direct volunteering, which have not been included in official statistical procedures up to now.
Four major developments triggered the need for this revision:

  1. The 2008 revision of the System of National Accounts (SNA), which introduced many improvements in the treatment of nonprofit institutions. In particular, the 2008 SNA calls for governments to sub-sector NPIs in the government and corporations accounts and emphasizes the importance of developing satellite accounts on the NPI sector. The new TSE Sector Handbook thus provides guidance to countries in their efforts to sub-sector NPIs, and offers more detailed guidance for identifying financial flows to them—including those from government, the market, and households in the form of donations and membership dues.
  2. The 2011 publication of the International Labour Organization’s Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work. The UN TSE Sector Handbook incorporates the guidelines published in the ILO Manual for the measurement of the volunteer contribution to the NPI sector, including the measurement of direct volunteering.
  3. The 2008 revision of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities, Rev.4 (ISIC Rev.4), which significantly expanded the number of fields in which NPIs tend to operate. The UN TSE Sector Handbook updates the International Classification of Non-Profit Organizations (ICNPO), and provides tools for classifying organizations in ISIC Rev.4 and for cross-walking ICNPO to ISIC Rev.4. The relationship between ICNPO and other systems, such as the European standard classification system of productive economic activities (NACE) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), are also be addressed.
  4. The release of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The UN TSE Sector Handbook provides guidance for countries that wish to go beyond the production of basic estimates on the NPI sector to also measure the output, outcomes, and impact of nonprofit organizations and related third sector organizations—specifically as they relate to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  5. Growing interest from statisticians, policy makers, social scientists, and private investors in “related” institutional units. Such units can take a variety of organizational forms—such as cooperatives, mutual societies, social enterprises, non-stock, and benefit corporations—as well as not formally organized activities. The UN TSE Sector Handbook draws on the substantial progress made in recent years in developing conceptual frameworks for identifying and reporting on the contribution of these entities, including that developed under the auspices of the European Commission-funded Third Sector Impact Project (TSI) that aimed to define the scope and gauge the impact of this broader “Third Sector.”

To date, 33 countries have committed to implementing the original UN NPI Handbook and 27 countries have either completed at least one satellite account or have such work under way. Included are countries as disparate as Belgium and Brazil, Cameroon and Canada, Italy and India, Mexico and Mongolia, and Peru and Portugal. In addition, support has been provided by Eurostat, the OECD Statistics Directorate, the European Commission’s Directorate for Enterprise, United Nations Volunteers, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Ford Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Click trough the links below to see publications from these countries, including completed satellite accounts where available.
The State of Global Civil Society and Volunteering: Latest findings from the implementation of the UN Nonprofit Handbook (2013) presents the most recent data resulting from the implementation of the UN NPI Handbook in 16 countries around the world. This report includes data on nonprofit employment, volunteering, fields of activity, contribution to GDP, expenditures, and revenues.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Chile | Czech Republic | Denmark | France | Germany | Ghana | India | Israel | Italy | Japan | Kenya | Kyrgyzstan | Korea, Republic of | Mexico | Mongolia | Morocco | Mozambique | New Zealand | Norway | Peru | Philippines | Portugal | Slovakia | South Africa | Sweden | Thailand | Uganda | United States | Vietnam