NEWS RELEASE | The State of Global Civil Society & Volunteering – Latest findings from the implementation of the UN Nonprofit Handbook

By on March 11, 2013

Today, we are happy to announce the release of our new report, “The State of Global Civil Society and Volunteering – Latest findings from the implementation of the UN Nonprofit Handbook,” which compares data from the 16 countries that have produced nonprofit satellite accounts. Please see the news release below. You can also see an infographic here, and you can download the full, 16-page report here.


A new report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies reveals that nonprofit organizations are major employers and major sources of employment growth in countries throughout the world. The report draws on new data generated by statistical offices in sixteen countries that have implemented a new United Nations Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions. This Handbook calls on national statistical offices to report on the economic scale and composition of nonprofit organizations in their countries for the first time.
Key findings to date from implementation of this Handbook, as summarized in this report, include these:
A major employer

  • In 6 of the 16 countries for which data are available, nonprofits employ 10 percent or more of the total workforce, making them one of the largest employers of any industry in these countries.
  • On average in these sixteen countries’ nonprofits employ more workers than either the transportation or construction industry.

A significant contributor to GDP

  • The nonprofit sector accounts for an average of 4.5 percent of the GDP in the covered countries, roughly equivalent to GDP contribution of the construction industry in these countries.
  • In the fields in which NPIs operate their GDP contribution is even larger than this. In the case of Portugal, for example, NPIs account for 94 percent of the value added by membership organizations and 76 percent of the value added in the social assistance field.

Diverse sources of revenue

  • Nonprofits, on average, receive far less of their revenue from philanthropy than is commonly thought.
  • Rather, 43 percent of the revenue comes from fees for their services, 32 percent from government sources, and only 23 percent from philanthropic giving, and even this is likely an over-estimate given limitations of the data sources.

A growing sector

  • In the eight countries on which historical data are available, the growth rate of the nonprofit sector contribution to GDP exceeded the growth rate of GDP.

“The global nonprofit sector is an enormously important economic actor, as well as a significant source of citizen well-being in countries throughout the world,” noted Dr. Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, which compiled these data and worked with the UN to create the Handbook. “It is time that we recognize more fully the contribution it makes.”
About the UN Nonprofit Handbook
The findings reported here cover sixteen countries that have so far implemented the United Nations Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts. Developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in cooperation with the UN Statistics Division and an international statistical advisory group, this Handbook calls on national statistical offices to prepare regular “satellite accounts” on the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and volunteering as part of their official economic data-gathering and reporting. This is the first time that guidelines for such statistical reports on nonprofit institutions have been established.
The sixteen countries completing at least one NPI satellite account and covered in this report are: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Israel, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Thailand, and the United States.
The full text of the Johns Hopkins report, “The State of Global Civil Society and Volunteering: Latest Findings from Implementation of the UN Nonprofit Handbook,” is available here.
Media contact:
Chelsea Newhouse

Chelsea Newhouse is the Communications Manager for the Center for Civil Society Studies and manages the Center's Nonprofit Economic Data and Philanthropication thru Privatization Projects and the Nonprofit Works Interactive Database. Prior to joining the Center in 2008, she worked for the Johns Hopkins University Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, the Baltimore Sun, and as a community organizer for Clean Water Action and the Democratic National Committee. She holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Virginia. Chelsea can be reached at