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Nonprofit sector grows

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U.S. nonprofits are a critical part of the U.S. economy, employing almost 13 million people, paying nearly $490 billion in wages, and making up 5 percent of gross national product, a new report says.

Over the past 10 years, the sector has expanded in almost every dimension, says the 2008 Nonprofit Almanac, published by the Urban Institute Press.

The report, with over 200 pages of statistics and analysis, details the size and scope of the nonprofit sector and compares trends among nonprofits to other sectors of the U.S. economy in the areas of wages and employment, giving and volunteering and finances.

The number of nonprofits in the U.S. grew to 1.4 million in 2006, up from 1.1 million in 1998, and the sector as a whole contributed $666.1 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006.

Revenues collected by the sector totaled $1 trillion in 2006, up 5.7 percent over 2005.

Nonprofits employed 12.9 million people in 2005, or about one in 10 U.S. jobs, and paid wages totaling $489.4 billion, accounting for 8.1 percent of all wages in the U.S., the report says.

Over the last decade, total giving by individuals, corporations and foundations more than doubled, reaching $295 billion in 2006, with individuals giving $245.8 billion in donations and bequests.

Foundation giving totaled $36.5 billion in 2005, up almost 200 percent over 10 years, while giving by corporations and corporate foundations grew 69 percent to $12.7 billion over the past decade.

And 61.2 million Americans say they volunteered in 2005, giving a total of 12.9 billion hours in 2006, or the equivalent of 7.6 million full-time employees, the report says.

That infusion of volunteer time, worth an estimated $215.6 billion in wages in 2006, effectively increased the nonprofit workforce by more than half.

“As the sector grows in size and financial clout, policymakers and the public need information to understand its diversity, assess its impact and ensure its accountability,” Elizabeth Boris, director of Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, says in a statement.

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