The voluntary sector, also known as “civil society” or the “third sector”, makes an important contribution to nearly every field of social activity. It is large, of the order of 5 percent of the typical economy, and in the context of the rapid ageing that most advanced economies will experience for the foreseeable future there is considerable scope for increasing this contribution. Since the range of policy domains that impinge on it are very wide, making the most of its contribution will require an extensive and comprehensive strengthening of the policy framework which governs its activities. The objective should be to reduce barriers to the sector’s expansion while ensuring its effectiveness, accountability and political legitimacy. Much of the concrete policy action needed in Europe will relate to specific aspects of particular activities, such as education, social services and arts and culture. But it will also relate to horizontal issues that cut across sectors with wide applicability, such as tax, financial reporting and specific problems that discourage mobilization of volunteers, particularly among retired people.