Public services in Scotland could be improved by giving the voluntary sector a greater part to play, a think-tank has said.
Reform Scotland is calling for a radical rethink of the role the role the voluntary sector plays in many parts of community life.
Research director Alison Payne said Scotland had more than 45,000 voluntary organisation, which altogether employ 5% of the workforce and have a combined annual turnover of £4.1 billion.
The independent think-tank has now launched a consultation paper calling for a debate on how best to extend this sector.
Reform Scotland said: "In areas such as health and education, giving people much greater control over the services they recieve and choice from a wider range of providers is the key to higher standards.
"By ending public-sector monopolies in the provision of such services, and creating a level playing field, third-sector organisations would have a much greater opportunity to deliver services."
The think-tank also suggested that giving Holyrood greater financial powers could benefit the voluntary sector.
Reform Scotland argued that if the Scottish Government could extend tax relief to encourage donations to charities, this could help voluntary organisations increase their funding from non-government sources.