Why Nonprofits Matter to the Economy in 5 Key Stats

The nonprofit sector is often hailed as the backbone of American society, and for good reason. It not only champions social causes but also significantly contributes to the economy.

Here are five compelling statistics that underscore the indispensable role of nonprofits in the United States:

  1. Economic Contribution: Nonprofit organizations contributed an impressive $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2022, a testament to their substantial role in the nation’s financial health. This figure, accounting for 5.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), showcases the sector’s economic prowess (according to the Independent Sector) .
  2. Employment Powerhouse: With over 12.5 million workers, the nonprofit sector stands as a major employer in the United States. In 2017, these organizations paid out over $670 billion in wages (according to the IRS), highlighting the sector’s critical role in supporting livelihoods across the country.
  3. Diversity and Reach: Home to approximately 1.8 million organizations, the nonprofit sector is incredibly diverse, spanning a wide range of causes and communities. This diversity not only enriches the social fabric of the U.S. but also ensures that a variety of societal needs are met.
  4. Volunteerism and Engagement: Beyond paid employees, nonprofits engage an army of 60 million volunteers, alongside 20 million board members. This massive volunteer force is pivotal in extending the reach and impact of nonprofit work, demonstrating the sector’s ability to mobilize community action and support (according to the US Dept of Labor).
  5. Financial Challenges Amidst Impact: Despite their economic contributions and societal impact, 92 percent of 501(c)(3) public charities operate with annual budgets of less than $1 million (according to CauseIQ.com). This statistic highlights the financial challenges faced by many nonprofits, underscoring the need for sustained support and investment to enable these organizations to continue their vital work.

These statistics paint a vivid picture of the nonprofit sector’s integral role in American society and the economy. As a major employer, economic contributor, and champion of social causes, the nonprofit sector serves as the nation’s backbone, deserving of recognition and support to ensure its resilience and continued impact.

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