State Profile – Kentucky


About This Profile

Across the United States, the charitable sector generates incredible impact on both communities and economies. This profile is a snapshot of major statistics about Kentucky’s charitable community. It’s designed to give you a broad sense of the scale and diversity of nonprofits, foundations, and charities across the state. A downloadable PDF version is available above.



Number of Kentucky Nonprofit Organizations

  • All nonprofit organizations: 17,014
  • 501(c)(3) Public Charities (includes some religious organizations): 11,329
  • 501(c)(3) Private and Public Foundations: 680
  • Other 501(c) Nonprofit Organizations*: 5,005

* includes civic leagues, chamber of commerce, veterans organizations, etc


Economic Impact of the Kentucky Nonprofit Sector

  • Employs 149,597, 9% of the state’s workforce
  • Generates $27.3 billion in annual revenues
  • Holds assets of $43 billion
  • Kentucky foundations annually give over $185 million
  • Kentuckians give $1.8 billion to charity each year, representing 3.3 percent of household income

Public Charities and Foundations Benefit Kentucky Communities

Deliver vital community services

In addition to funding local cancer research efforts, the American Cancer Society in Kentucky strives to ease the emotional and financial burden of patients and their families by offering free lodging at the Hope Lodge in Lexington.

Give voice to the people they serve

Based on research led by the National Institutes of Health, the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. All program participants receive a free individual membership to the YMCA of Central Kentucky during the core sessions of the program.

Contribute to vibrant communities

The mission of the Owensboro Symphony is to create meaningful, imaginative performances and educational and community engagement programs that enrich lives and create memorable experiences. The Symphony also sponsors The Owensboro Symphony Youth and String Orchestras. Involving students from throughout the tri-state, these ensembles perform challenging repertoire in three concerts each year.

Advance solutions for challenges facing society

Based in Berea, the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust has contributed to the protection of over 29,000 acres of land in the region. Including key portions of the 125-mile public hiking trails on Pine Mountain, which provides migratory passageways for indigenous animals and plants.




Note: The “nonprofit sector” encompasses organizations that are defined as tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. This includes both public charities and private foundations [501(c)(3)] and other nonprofits such as civic league organizations [501(c)(4)]. Exceptions are noted when relevant.

Employment Information

Best estimate based on available data from the following sources:

The 2019 nonprofit employment report, Lester M. Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Nonprofit Employment Bulletin #47, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, 2019 {Data is 2016, page 3}

Breakdown by Nonprofit Service Area

The University of Kentucky and Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Initiative, The Kentucky Nonprofit Sector, 2010 {Data is 2007, page 3}


Number of Nonprofits

Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, State Summary reports {Data are 2013}


Asset and Revenues

Kentucky Nonprofit Network, Kentucky Nonprofits: More Than Charity, 2017.

Foundation Giving

The Foundation Center, FC Stats: “Foundation Stats: Total Grantmaking Foundations” {Data are 2015}

Individual Giving

How America Gives, 2014. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. {Data are 2012}.


Nonprofit Examples:

American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Lexington:

YMCA of Central Kentucky:

Owensboro Symphony Orchestra:

Kentucky Natural Lands Trust:


As of September 2019


Resource Types: Fact Sheet