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How non-profit NGOs contribute to health care

The 2016 UK research report entitled ‘Untapped Potential: Bringing the voluntary sector’s strengths to health and care transformation’ identifies key challenges, contributions and opportunities for the charity health sector, which bear remarkable similarities to those of our New Zealand non-profit community sector.

The report illustrates the current and potential contribution that non-profit providers can make.

Key summary diagrams are reproduced here with the permission of the authors and provide useful frameworks to build on in 2017 and beyond. (For the purposes of this overview, the ‘charity’ and ‘non-profit NGO’ terms can be used interchangeably.)

What do charities do?

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While the value of the non-profit sector is often thought of solely in terms of the role it plays supporting individuals, much of the value it adds is at the system level.

Where in the care pathway do charities help?

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As well as supporting people at each stage of the patient pathway (and often across pathways), the work of the non-profit sector also relieves pressure in the health and care system across settings.

How do charities work?

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The value offered by non-profit NGOs goes beyond simply the activities that they deliver and the outcomes they achieve. Instead, much of the community sector’s value comes from how non-profit NGOs deliver services. This needs to form part of the narrative about the role of non-profit NGOs in health and care.

What additional value do charities bring to the system?

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There are concepts particularly associated with non-profit NGOs that set them apart from other types of providers.

The Untapped Potential report identifies the potential as follows:

“If health and social care decision-makers have a clear understanding of the charity sector’s evidence in relation to their priorities, the charity sector can be more involved in developing and delivering better health and care services – which will support better outcomes for people and communities.”

Looking ahead, this is a challenge we can all contribute to addressing here in Aotearoa New Zealand. These frameworks may be useful to support constructive dialogue with service commissioners and policymakers.


Untapped Potential, research by NPC commissioned by the Richmond Group of Charities and its partners. Diagrams reproduced with permission.