Revision of the UN Nonprofit Handbook underway

In 2002, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies partnered with the United Nations Statistics Division and an international team of statistical experts to develop the first UN Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions in the System of National Accounts. This NPI Handbook offers a way for national statistical agencies to identify and measure nonprofit, or civil society, organizations in their countries in a comparable manner.
To date, nearly 20 countries have produced official data on the nonprofit sectors in their countries shedding far more clarity on the size, scope, revenue, and contributions of this important sector around the world. The latest comparative results of these efforts are reported in The State of Global Civil Society and Volunteering: Latest findings from the implementation of the UN Nonprofit Handbook (2013).
Over a decade after its publication, we are excited to report that a revision of the UN NPI Handbook is now underway. The revision will draw on the experiences and lessons-learned from the countries that have implemented the Handbook, and will provide additional practical tools and guidance materials to make it more straightforward to implement and produce comparative data.
The revised UN NPI Handbook will not change the definition of a nonprofit institution, but rather will provide additional guidance and enhancements as a result of four major developments:

  1. The 2008 revision of the System of National Accounts (SNA), which introduced many improvements in the treatment of nonprofit institutions. In particular, the 2008 SNA calls for governments to sub-sector NPIs in the government and corporations accounts and emphasizes the importance of developing satellite accounts on the NPI sector. The revised UN NPI Handbook will thus provide guidance to countries in their efforts to sub-sector NPIs, and will offer more detailed guidance for identifying financial flows to them – including those from government, the market, and households in the form of donations and membership dues.
  2. The 2011 publication of the International Labour Organization Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work. The revised UN NPI Handbook will incorporate the guidelines published in the ILO Manual for the measurement of the volunteer contribution to the NPI sector.
  3. The 2008 revision of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities, Rev.4 (ISIC Rev.4), which significantly expanded the number of fields in which NPIs tend to operate. The revised UN NPI Handbook will update the International Classification of Non-Profit Organizations (ICNPO), and will provide tools for classifying organizations in ISIC Rev.4 and for cross-walking ICNPO to ISIC Rev.4. The relationship between ICNPO and other systems, such as the European standard classification system of productive economic activities (NACE) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), will also be discussed.
  4. The release of draft UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets, the follow-on to the UN Millennium Development Goals. The revised UN NPI Handbook will provide guidance for countries that wish to go beyond the production of basic estimates on the NPI sector to also measure the output, outcomes, and impact of nonprofit organizations – specifically as they relate to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Center is preparing the revision in cooperation with the United Nations Statistics Division and an international consultative group of national statistics agencies and civil society experts. The final document is expected in 2015. For more information, please contact us.

Megan Haddock

View posts by Megan Haddock
Megan Haddock served as International Research Projects Manager for the Comparative Nonprofit Sector, UN Handbook, and Volunteer Measurement Projects. She received her Masters in Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins Institute of Policy Studies and her B.A. from Carleton College in International Relations and Political Science. She was a lead author of the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work. Megan now serves as Program Manager at the International Society for Third Sector Research.