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Nonprofits have global reach

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The worldwide nonprofit sector is larger and more influential than previously thought, a new body of research says.

The United Nations Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts, published in 2003, called for national statistical agencies to do a better job in reporting the size and economic heft of nonprofit groups around the world.

In response, 26 countries have committed to supplying such data to the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies and the U.N. Statistics Division, which are partnering on the project.

Data already submitted indicate Canada’s nonprofit sector, when including the value of volunteer time, represents almost 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, outpacing the retail trade and mining sectors.

The sector in the U.S., excluding volunteer time, represents 5 percent of gross domestic product, a larger share than agriculture, utilities and construction, the data say.

In Belgium, the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product grew at three times the rate of the country’s economy from 2000 to 2003.

Johns Hopkins hopes to receive data from at least 30 countries by 2008.

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