Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (CNP)

The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (CNP) is the largest systematic effort ever undertaken to analyze the scope, structure, financing, and role of the private nonprofit sector in countries around the world in order to enrich our understanding of this sector, and to provide a sounder basis for both public and private action towards it.
Begun in 1991, this project grew out of an increased need for basic information about civil society organizations following a dramatic “associational revolution.” This revolution forced a reappraisal of the respective roles of the market and the state focused new attention on the role of private, nonprofit organizations; however, despite this growing importance, these organizations remained poorly understood almost everywhere, making it difficult to determine their capabilities or to attract attention to their challenges.
To address the need for improved data, the Center launched by working with teams of local researchers in 13 countries to produce the first systematic body of internationally comparative data on CSOs, philanthropy, and volunteerism. Now operating in more than 45 countries, spanning all of the world’s continents and most of its major religious and cultural traditions, this project has produced a rich body of comparative data and the Johns Hopkins Global Civil Society Index, several books, and more than 60 published working papers written or edited by Center Staff and Local Associates.


This project aims to:

  • Document the scope, structure, financing, and role of the civil society sector in solid empirical terms.
  • Explain why this sector varies in size, composition, character, and role from place to place and identify the factors that seem to encourage or retard its development, including differences in history, legal arrangements, religious backgrounds, cultures, socioeconomic structures, and patterns of government policy.
  • Evaluate the impact these organizations have and the contributions they make, as well as the drawbacks they entail.
  • Highlight of this set of institutions by disseminating the results of the work.
  • Build local capacity to carry on the work in the future.


To pursue these objectives, the project utilizes a comparative empirical approach that features heavy reliance on a team of Local Associates in the project countries, a common framework, set of definitions, and information-gathering strategies; and a network of national and international advisory committees to oversee progress and help disseminate results. A detailed description of the methodology can be downloaded here.


Project work began in 1991 in 13 countries and now extends to more than 45 countries spanning all the regions of the world. Follow the links below to browse publications produced by project countries. If you are interested in carrying out the CNP in your country, please contact us.

Argentina | Australia | Austria | Belgium | Brazil | Canada | Chile | Colombia | Czech Republic | Denmark | Egypt | Finland | France | Germany | Ghana | Hungary | India | Ireland | Israel | Italy | Japan | Kenya | Korea, Republic of | Lebanon | Mexico | Morocco | The Netherlands | New Zealand | Norway | Pakistan | Peru | The Philippines | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russia | Slovakia | South Africa | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Tanzania | Thailand | Turkey | Uganda | United Kingdom | United States