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This brief highlights trends from the seventh edition of The Nonprofit Almanac 2008, prepared by the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute. The Almanac is the latest in the Urban Institute's series of statistical profiles of the nonprofit sector and focuses primarily on 501(c)(3) public charities. We also highlight key findings on private charitable contributions and volunteering, two vital components of the nonprofit sector. This brief includes the most recent available data (2005 and 2006).
We divide nonprofit organizations into three groups, 501(c)(3) public charities,
501(c)(3) private foundations, and “other” nonprofit organizations.
Public charities include most organizations active in the arts, education,
health care, and human services. They are what most people mean when
they use the term nonprofit organization. The nation’s approximately
350,000 religious congregations are also considered public charities, but
they are not required to register with the IRS, although about half have chosen
to do so.
Private foundations are also tax exempt under section 501(c)(3). A
founding individual, a family, or a corporation usually endows these organizations. Typically, foundations fund 501(c)(3) public charities,
although they may also provide scholarships, support
government activities, or conduct operating activities similar
to those of public charities.
The “other” category includes thousands of social and
recreational clubs, trade associations, labor unions, veterans
associations, and advocacy organizations, as well as a
relatively few large but obscure entities, such as a health
care trust for a major automaker.
Of the 1.4 million nonprofit organizations registered
with the IRS in 2005, over half a million collected more
than $25,000 in gross receipts and are therefore required
to file a Form 990 annually. (All private foundations are
required to file an annual Form 990-PF, regardless of their
size.) These “reporting organizations” accounted for
approximately $1.6 trillion in revenue and $3.4 trillion in
assets in 2005, the latest year for which complete data are
As displayed in table 1, the number of nonprofit
organizations registered with the IRS grew by 27.3 percent
from 1995 to 2005. Over this same time, the number
of reporting nonprofit organizations grew by 22.9 percent.
The finances of reporting nonprofit organizations also grew
at a healthy rate from 1995 to 2005. While the U.S. GDP
increased by approximately 35 percent over this period
after adjusting for inflation (Bureau of Economic Analysis
2007), revenues and assets for reporting nonprofits grew
by at least 54 percent—a difference of nearly 20 percentage
points. Total assets, in particular, rose dramatically,
with an inflation-adjusted increase of 77.1 percent.
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