Though many people are not aware of it, the nonprofit community is an enormous contributor to the American economy: It provided 5.4% of the nation's entire GDP or $905.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013.
In 2012, nonprofits provided 11.4 million jobs, accounting for 10.3% of the country's private-sector workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Between 2000 and 2010, employment in the nonprofit sector grew and estimated 18%, a rate faster than the overall U.S. economy.
The nonprofit sector has continues to add jobs throughout the recession and into the recovery.
Employees of nonprofit organizations account for 9.8% of wages paid in the U.S. and the nonprofit sector paid $532 billion in wages and benefits to its employees in 2012.
According to 2015 national data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the volunteer rate was 24.9% with 62.6 million Americans volunteering.
According to the 2016 Giving USA Annual Report, Total Charitable Giving in 2015 is estimated at $373.25 billion (a 4.1% increase from 2014). In comparison, 2008 saw a decline of 5.5% from 2007. Charitable giving accounted for 2.1% of the gross domestic product in 2015.
There are about 238,293 donor-advised accounts, which represent an 8.8% increase over the past year. From 2013 to 2014, grantmaking from donor-advised funds to charities rose by almost 30% to $12.49 billion. In 2014, charitable assets from these fund accounts totaled above $70 billion. Of total charitable giving, $19.66 billion of the contributions went to donor-advised fund accounts, which represents 7.6% of all charitable giving.
Below is the breakdown of recipient organizations of 2015 contributions from the 2016 Giving USA Report:
- Religion – 32%
- Education – 15%
- Human services – 12%
- Public-society benefit – 7%
- Health – 8%
- Arts, culture, and humanities – 5%
- Environment and animals – 3%
- International affairs – 4%
- Gifts to foundations – 11%
- Gifts to Individuals – 2%
2015 Breakdown of Charitable Contributions by Source
A study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that many of the largest foundations had assets reach their highest level since the recession.
In 2012, 86,192 active foundations in the U.S. had assets of $715 billion, according to Foundation Center.
Some of the nation’s largest foundations awarded almost 154,000 grants totaling $22.4 billion in 2012. The top four focus areas for these grants include:
- Health – 22%
- Education – 22%
- Human Services – 16%
- Public Affairs/Society Benefit – 12%
- Individuals – 71% at $64.58 billion (increased 3.8% from 2014)
- Foundations – 16% at $58.46 billion (increased 6.5% from 2014)
- Corporations – 5% at $18.45 billion (increased 13.9% from 2014)
- Bequests – 9% at $31.76 billion (increased 2.1% from 2014)
In 2013, according to the Urban Institute’s publication, The Nonprofit Sector in Brief
, the total expenses of all reporting public charities – public charities required to file Form 990s with the IRS – totaled nearly $1.73 trillion in revenues. Total assets were estimated at $3.22 trillion.
Most nonprofits are small
. In 2013, three-fourths of public charities had annual expenses of less than $500,000. Four percent of charitable organizations had annual expenses over $10 million.
Assets, Expenses, and Revenue
Sources of Revenue for Reporting Public Charities, 2013
|Reporting Public Charities|
Sources of Revenue for Reporting Public Charities, 2013 (Detailed)
- From Private Sources - 60.8%
- From Government Sources - 32.5%
- Other - 6.7%
- Fees for services and goods from private sources - 47.5%
- Includes payments to organizations offering services, such as hospitals,, tuition payments, ticket sales, and child daycare centers.
- Fees for services and goods from government sources - 24.5%
- Includes grants and money appropriated by the government for services, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
- Private contributions- 13.3%
- Includes grants and donations from individuals, foundations, corporations, and bequests.
- Government grants - 8%
- Includes investment income - 4.8%
- Other income - 1.9%
For more information on the economic impact of nonprofits by state, please visit our state profiles portal
1. McKeever, Brice S. The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2015: Public Charities, Giving, and Volunteering, October 2015, Urban Institute, 2015.
2. BLS Commissioner. Announcing New Research Data on Jobs and Pay in the Nonprofit Sector. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 17, 2014. [View Source]
3. Roeger, Katie L., Amy S. Blackwood, and Sarah L. Pettijohn. The Nonprofit Almanac 2012. The Urban Institute: 2012.
4. BLS Monthly Labor Review, Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 17, 2014. [View Source]
5. Volunteering in the United States, 2015. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 25, 2016. [View Source]
6. Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015. The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Giving USA Foundation.
7. National Philanthropic Trust - Donor Advised Fund Market Report 2015. [View Source]
8. Donovan, Doug, and Sarah Frostenson. "Foundation Assets Reach Highest Level Since Downturn." The Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 23, 2014. [View Source]
9. Key Facts on U.S. Foundations. Foundation Center: 2014 edition. [View Source]
10. National Center for Charitable Statistics [View Source]