Nicola Sturgeon writes for TFN ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections
The thousands of volunteers who support a range of organisations across the vital third sector make an enormous contribution to communities, people and society.
We are appreciative of all they do at all times but are particularly grateful to the many third sector organisations and volunteers who have stepped up and supported people through this difficult time.
The dedication, energy and commitment of the sector and volunteers - alongside their willingness to respond to meet the needs of people and communities - has stood out during the crisis. In many cases, their contributions have provided important lifelines on which people could rely. We would like to thank everyone involved.
But we also know that some parts of the third sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. That is why we have already made substantial investment to support this sector's vital work.
We have invested more than £1 billion to support our communities over the past year through a £550 million communities funding package and £479m to local authorities.
This funding has supported those most in need through the hard work of the third sector, local authorities and, of course, communities themselves.
This included around £80m to third sector and community organisations and we provided additional investment through our Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme backed by over £50m of investment.
This has been to help those facing funding challenges as well as to help organisations be part of the response to the pandemic.
We wanted to support the organisations who have supported our communities get through the pandemic - and we are continuing to do that.
At the end of March, we announced a further £13.5m to help the third sector recover and transition from the pandemic.
The SNP recognises the third sector is at the forefront of recovery, too. The vital role of the third sector and volunteers has also been recognised by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery.
Voices from the sector were represented strongly on the Social Renewal Advisory Board and we will take forward their recommendations if we are returned in May.
But we know that, to enable our voluntary sector to continue its vital work, it needs reliable funding - so we will work towards multi-year funding for the sector to ensure a more secure and sustainable future.
That, we believe, would be a significant commitment from a future SNP government that recognises the critical importance of Scotland's exemplary third sector.
Nicola Sturgeon is leader of the Scottish National Party.