The U.S. nonprofit sector is the underpinning of our society. In 2020, we have seen this in extraordinary and extraordinarily painful ways. Nonprofits provide a significant portion of the nation’s health care, higher education, human services, arts and culture, conservation, and other vital services. Nonprofits also have been the primary catalyst for major social change over the past 150 years. At a time when the sector is both more critical and more vulnerable than in recent memory, it is essential that communities and their leaders understand the current health of the nonprofit sector.
The annual Independent Sector Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector is a new and developing resource that conveys important information on the current health of the U.S. nonprofit sector across multiple dimensions and in a single, accessible format. Most information on the health and well-being of nonprofits is found across multiple, single-issue reports, which makes it difficult to get a complete picture of overall sector health. This annual review makes a broad set of measures that are easily accessible and presented side-by-side, so stakeholders and key decisionmakers can see the most accurate snapshot of the state of civil society.
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Nonprofits make up 5.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
In 2019, Americans gave $450 billion to charity, but the number of donors continued a downward trend, declining by 3%
Nonprofits make up 7% of total workforce and 10% of private workforce
Voters contacted by nonprofits turn out at rates 11 percentage points higher than comparable voters
7% of nonprofits are estimated to close due to the pandemic and 1 million nonprofit jobs have been lost
59% of U.S. public trust nonprofits to do what is right
Letter from President and CEO
By Dan Cardinali, Independent Sector
Without a strong sector and resilient civil society, democracies like ours can atrophy and people will suffer. Without a healthy nonprofit sector, the climb out of 2020 will be nearly impossible.
For several years, and increasingly in this moment, we have been asking ourselves, “How healthy are we as a sector?” The reality is that there is no easy way to tell. To be sure, there is much good data living in academic centers and on multiple websites. However, the data is often fragmented. It is sometimes out of date. Much of it also lacks interpretation from which a story of health, or lack thereof, can emerge.