Thursday, May 7, 2009

New to the Nonprofit Sector? Here's a BRIEF Overview

Two amazing incoming doctoral students will be joining our team at the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research this fall. One doctoral student is an excellent quantitative researcher and the other is an excellent writer.

I am looking forward to working with them and tapping into each of their individual areas of expertise. They are also looking forward to working with me and learning more about the nonprofit sector.

It is challenging for me to provide an overview of the nonprofit sector without inundating these new students with information, so I decided to write this post in an effort to provide a BRIEF overview about how one can learn about the nonprofit sector.

1. General Statistics about the Nonprofit Sector from the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics: The Nonprofit Sector in a Brief
  • 1.4 million nonprofits
  • 501(c)(3) public charities, 501(c)(3) private foundations, and “other” nonprofit organizations.
  • The majority of public charities report less than $500,000 in expenses
  • The number of reporting public charities grew from 187,038 in 1995 to 310,683 in 2005
  • $1.1 trillion in expenses and nearly $2 trillion in total assets for
2. Nonprofit Workforce Statistics from Johns Hopkins University's Nonprofit Employment Data Project: Employment in America's Charities: A Profile & American Humanics' Initative for Nonprofit Sector Careers: Workforce Issues in the Nonprofit Sector

From Employment in America's Charities:
  • Nonprofit Workers comprise of 7% of the national workforce
  • Nonprofit employment is scattered across a wide variety of fields, from information and scientific services to religion and civic affairs. The bulk of this employment, however, is in human services, and within that broad category, in health services.
  • While nonprofit wages on average are lower than for-profit wages, this difference seems largely due to the fact that nonprofits are concentrated in generally low-wage fields. When we compare nonprofit and for-profit jobs in these fields, however, nonprofits actually turn out to have higher average wages than their for-profit counterparts.
3. Nonprofit News, Sector Leaders, Nonprofit books, Nonprofit blogs, Nonprofit Journals and Foundation Giving Statistics from the Foundation Center's: The Philanthropy Annual
4. Nonprofit Jobs and Careers Information from: Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Careers & The Nonprofit Career Guide

From Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Careers:
  • While every nonprofit is different, the overall perceptions of the nonprofit sector—from those who work in it, as well as those who don’t—suggest a vibrant, stimulating work environment with plenty of benefits for individuals who choose to make it their career.
  • Nonprofit Speak 101
  • The term “nonprofit” does not mean that these organizations don’t make money. Nonprofits [can] generate a lot of revenue, but they allocate these funds toward programs and operating costs, not toward dividends and other payouts.
  • While the Executive Director of a nonprofit often has similar roles and responsibilities to those of a for-profit CEO or president, using these terms interchangeably can suggest a lack of awareness of the distinctions between the sectors.
  • Form 990: The report to the IRS that many nonprofits file annually to document continued eligibility for tax-exempt status and to provide accountability on many topics.
5. Nonprofit Education Program Information from Roseanne Mirabella at Seton Hall University
  • Over two-hundred and ninety-two colleges and universities [offer] courses in nonprofit management.
  • One-hundred and thirty-two schools offer at least one course for undergraduate credit, nearly seventy with an American Humanics affiliation, (an alliance of colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations preparing undergraduates for careers with youth and human service agencies).
  • Two hundred colleges and universities have at least one course within a graduate department. One-hundred and sixty-eight of these programs offer a graduate degree with a concentration (three or more courses) in the management of nonprofit organizations.
For more in depth information about the sector, please read:
More information to follow about:
  • Nonprofit Sub-sectors
  • Nonprofit Technology
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Nonprofit Finance/Accounting


Anonymous said...

This is great information; thank you for sharing.

I am planning to leave teaching in an inner city high school next year, after 21 years, and I would very much like to work with a nonprofit. Microfinance intrigues me as well as community kitchens like LaCocina in San Francisco. I want very much to help women become self sufficient. I appreciate your posts for tips.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to have a nonprofit "futurist" speak at a nonprofit seminar in March, 2010. Any suggestions?

Stephanie Medlock

Professor Carpenter said...


You should contact Alex Hillebrand or Heather Goudy at La Piana and Associates. They just released a report about the future of the nonprofit sector.