The voluntary sector of a nation's economy consists of those entities which provide public and community services and are not part of the government: Charities, volunteer community centres, NGO's, religious organisations, service clubs, recreational and cultural assocations. Some of which perform functions that the public or private sector may perform or have performed, but using volunteer not paid labour. Due to this distinction:

The voluntary sector is considered to be distinct from the public sector and the private sector. However a political party is obviously an overlap of all three: it seeks to apply involuntary regulation to the private sector, rule the public sector, but is itself composed of volunteers.

The related term social economy describes the linkages between the public and private sector that are rooted in community organizations and purpose-specific groups. A political party is often the venue in which such groups will negotiate common positions on many related issues.

See also: fund voluntary sector, charitable status, non-governmental organization, community service, social service, social capital, social contract, social network, power network, faction.