The National Forum of the "Third Sector" was officially established on June 19, 1997. In October 2017, the "Ministry of Labour and Social Policies" (Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali) announced that the Forum (at the end of the public notice procedure for the implementation of Articles 59 and 64 of the Third-Sector Code), was the most representative association of Third-Sector entities on the national territory, due to the number of member entities. It represents 89 second and third level national organizations (for a total of more than 141,000 territorial offices) operating in the fields of volunteering, associations, social cooperation, international solidarity, ethical finance, fair-trade and solidarity in our country.
On the basis of a pact consistent with the national one, 20 regional forums have been set up, numerous provincial and local forums to which the realities of civil society operating at the territorial level adhere.
Within the Forum there are several councils and thematic working groups: environment and territory; associations for social promotion; culture, tourism, sport and wellness; disability and non-self-sufficiency; social economy; regional Forums; childhood, adolescence and youth; health and elderly; education and school; Europe, world and international cooperation; volunteering; civil-service table, technical-legislative table; people deprived of freedom.
Among the results achieved so far from the progressive implementation work of the Forum there a series of Memoranda of Understanding including with :
- MIUR (Ministry of Education and research);
- Anci (Associazione Nazionale dei Comuni Italiani- National Association of Italian municipalities);
- MLPS (Ministry of Labor and Social Policies);
- Unioncamere (Unione italiana delle Camere di commercio, industria, artigianato e agricoltura- Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture).
Istat (Italian Statistics Institute) updates to 2018 the information on the number of non-profit institutions active in Italy and their main structural characteristics from the data of the statistical register. In the strategy of permanent censuses, launched by Istat in 2016, the register is updated annually through the integration of different administrative sources, while every three years, information on the sector is completed by sample surveys. In this way, both the necessary depth and articulation of the structural information framework and the analysis in historical series are guaranteed. The non-profit sector confirms its growth. As at 31 December 2018, there were 359,574 non-profit institutions active in Italy and, in total, 853,476 employees. The number of non-profit institutions increases with average annual growth rates substantially constant over time (around 2%) while the increase in employees, equal to 3.9% between 2016 and 2017, stands at 1.0% in the two-year period 2017-2018. Compared to the total of companies in industry and services, the incidence of non-profit institutions continues to increase, going from 5.8% in 2001 to 8.2% in 2018, unlike the weight of employees, which remains almost stable (6.9%).