The global pandemic shined a spotlight on a range of long-time challenges and essentials that we have taken for granted. A less obvious, but critically important challenge for the nonprofit sector emerged in 2020: the lack of standard, reliable workforce data.
Since our inception, nonprofits have served as the bridge between government and community – a role that has ultimately defined America. As a reliable and trusted source of information, you are uniquely qualified to mobilize your network to drive the availability of higher-quality, timely information about nonprofit employment data.
State of Play: Given its central role in so many aspects of American life, it is essential that the U.S. government provide more regular, accurate and accessible data on nonprofit employment and wage trends. For nonprofits and policymakers to assess needs and design effective policies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics must provide quarterly data on nonprofit employment and wages. These data should be provided nationally, by state, county, and metropolitan area; broken down by field and major subfields.
What Can I Do to Help?
This toolkit is designed to support your advocacy and mobilization efforts. Curated content and resources included are as follow:
Talking Points & Context
Effective Recovery Policies Require Regular Nonprofit Employment Data
Use the following talking points and context to engage policymakers, constituents, and nonprofit advocates. [PDF Version]
- From healthcare to housing, education to environmental protection, government at all levels relies on charitable nonprofits to generate innovative new solutions and provide critical services throughout the country.
- At more than 10% of the private workforce the nonprofit sector is also a major job creator and component of local economies, outdistancing all branches of manufacturing, all construction, and all finance and insurance.
- Nonprofits’ economic role often surprises policymakers and the public, in part due to the lack of timely information about the sector.
- The mission of the BLS includes a charge to “measure labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S. economy to support public and private decision making.”
- Industries like goat farming and limousine service receive regular quarterly workforce data, while the nonprofit sector – the nation’s third largest workforce – is required to purchase this information or wait years for it.
- Policymakers and nonprofit executives are left without adequate information to assess needs and develop responses for this key piece of the American economy.
- The global economic and public health crisis caused by COVID-19 devastated the finances of many nonprofits at a time of skyrocketing need. While nonprofit leaders were hit by dramatic swings in revenue, costs, and employment, the BLS was not able to release regular nonprofit employment and wage data that could help policymakers respond.
- Nonprofit researchers from Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies made heroic efforts to provide regular estimates but had to use uncertain projections based on old data.
- Lacking adequate official data from BLS, nonprofits were forced to divert significant resources to gathering replacement data, and relief legislation was less effective as a result.
Without regular, reliable workforce data, it is difficult for the nonprofit sector to identify the type of help it needs from policymakers and funders. While this information is vital, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has previously indicated that it will be more responsive to demonstrated demand from our sector. Please join this organization sign-on letter to support this sector-wide effort to secure reliable nonprofit workforce data.