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SCOPE OF THE NONPROFIT SECTOR IN THE UNITED STATES

The scope of the nonprofit sector in the United States is very significant in all aspects of social, economic, cultural, and political life. As of 2012, there were 1.6 million registered nonprofit organizations in the United States. The registered nonprofit organizations include 973,961 public charities; 98,785 private foundations; and 495,169 other types of nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations, and civic leagues (NCCS, 2012). Registered nonprofit organizations in the United States receive their funding from (a) contributions, gifts, grants, and contracts from the government; (b) individual volunteering and charitable giving; (c) foundation giving; and (d) revenues generated from their programs (e.g., fees for services). Roeger, Blackwood, and Pettijohn (2012) estimated that nonprofit organizations accounted for 9.2% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States in 2010, and a share of 5.5% of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012. Registered nonprofit organizations in the United States reported more than $2 trillion in revenue on their Forms 990, and more than $6 trillion in assets. Form 990 is a mandatory report that registered nonprofit organizations with revenues over $5,000 must submit to the Internal Revenue Service. The numbers, total revenues, and assets reported by U.S. registered nonprofit organizations on their Forms 990 are described in Table 1.1.

TYPES OF NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

There is a variety of nonprofit organizations in the United States that are based on their function in the nonprofit sector. The main types of nonprofit organizations functionally include, but are not limited to:

1. Direct-service providers, which provide direct human or social services (e.g., health, community education, referrals, counseling, and economic assistance) to clients through programs managed by their staff and volunteers. Nonprofit hospitals, community clinics, and community organizations are examples of direct-service providers.

2. Social clubs and organizations, which conduct activities to further the social interests of their members. Examples of social clubs and organizations include fraternities, lodges, sporting clubs, women's associations, gay and lesbian rights groups, and unions and professional associations.

3. Religious and cultural organizations, which exist to profess and practice activities to advance and promote a particular religious or cultural belief. Churches, synagogues, mosques, artistic associations, and musical associations are examples of religious and cultural organizations.

4. Information and knowledge providers, which accumulate and manage information and knowledge to provide to their users. This category includes colleges and universities, advocacy groups, think tanks, trade associations, and research institutes.

5. Development and support providers, which furnish resources and support to other nonprofit organizations. Organization and management support groups are examples of development and support providers.

6. Funding providers, which award grants or funding to other nonprofit organizations. Private foundations are example of funding providers.

TABLE 1.1 The Number, Total Revenue, and Assets Reported by U.S. Registered Nonprofit Organizations on Form 990

National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities

Count

Total Revenue Reported on Form 990 (in U.S. Dollars)

Assets Reported on Form 990 (in U.S. Dollars)

A—Arts, Culture & Humanities

105,893

36,118,532,387

124,958,259,362

B—Education

191,341

275,465,458,178

955,772,039,806

C—Environment

33,183

10,903,364,784

32,842,032,224

D—Animal Related

22,782

6,695,594,399

15,427,980,428

E—Health Care

42,289

969,582,740,536

1,186,965,550,705

F—Mental Health & Crisis Intervention

15,734

28,368,089,408

23,893,394,079

G—Voluntary Health Associations & Medical Disciplines

25,042

16,701,313,870

22,941,378,975

H—Medical Research

4,005

10,965,845,510

39,988,685,232

I—Crime & Legal Issues

19,115

8,856,467,171

9,106,072,193

J—Employment

39,232

34,177,502,134

41,177,954,238

K—Food, Agriculture, & Nutrition

15,586

12,184,541,497

10,897,536,117

L—Housing & Shelter

31,428

23,921,818,969

80,914,754,979

M—Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness, & Relief

21,573

3,614,599,650

9,579,696,316

N—Recreation & Sports

103,097

29,578,570,307

52,542,765,412

O—Youth Development

38,698

7,192,996,044

14,172,539,359

P—Human Services

88,692

125,808,903,915

172,500,851,333

Q—International, Foreign Affairs, & National Security

18,642

32,403,574,660

38,241,823,790

R—Civil Rights, Social Action, & Advocacy

8,368

4,156,674,135

5,366,722,543

S—Community Improvement & Capacity Building

120,810

38,478,732,573

119,946,373,533

T—Philanthropy, Voluntarism, & Grant-Making Foundations

207,700

83,137,058,191

2,332,740,669,689

U—Science & Technology

7,356

20,344,788,156

22,869,962,528

V—Social Science

2,050

2,598,061,730

4,350,679,096

W—Public & Societal Benefit

67,455

91,839,987,304

562,506,042,744

X—Religion Related

252,953

14,767,743,466

41,100,965,563

Y—Mutual & Membership Benefit

75,394

158,853,258,729

309,765,547,235

Z—Unknown

7,079

2,668,846,979

2,580,924,936

Total

1,565,497

2,049,385,064,682

6,233,151,202,415

Source: Internal Revenue Service, Exempt Organizations Business Master File (2012).

Notes: Includes organizations that filed a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, and, since 2008, 990-N ePostcard within 24 months of the BMF (business master file) release date, as reported in National Center for Charitable Statistics Core Files and 1RS Business Master Files. Organizations based in the U.S. Territories and Puerto Rico and other "out-of-scope" organizations (see NCCS Data Guide, p. 21) are excluded.

According to the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE), there are 9 major types of nonprofit organizations in the United States, including 26 categories and over 400 subcategories. The nine major categories are as follows (with important subcategories listed):

1. Arts, Culture, and Humanities—A (e.g., historical societies, museums)

2. Education—B (e.g., schools, colleges, and universities)

3. Environment and Animals—C, D (e.g., humane societies)

4. Health—E, F, G, H (e.g., nonprofit hospitals)

5. Human Services—I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P (e.g., family services, child protection agencies)

6. International, Foreign Affairs—Q (e.g., the Salvation Army, ACTIONAID USA)

7. Public, Societal Benefit—R, S, T, U, V, W (e.g., United Way)

8. Religion Related—X (e.g., churches, mosques, synagogues)

9. Mutual/Membership Benefit—Y (e.g., credit unions)

As previously indicated, nonprofit organization can apply for 501(c) status through the International Revenue Service. The IRS classifies 32 categories of nonprofit organizations under sections 501(c)(1) through 501(c)(27) and sections 501(d) through 501 (n), including several subcategories. Table 1.2 describes the major nonprofit organization categories of the IRS Code of 1986.

 
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