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Diane Publishing Books
Overview of the Nonprofit and Charitable Sector
Molly F. Sherlock (au); Jane G. Gravelle (au)
The nonprofit and charitable sector represents a significant portion of the U.S. economy. The sector is also highly diverse. Having a greater understanding of the nonprofit and charitable sector as a whole may help policymakers evaluate proposals that may impact the sector. Section 1 of this report provides a formal definition of the nonprofit and charitable sector. The term “nonprofit sector” generally refers to organizations with federal tax exempt status; “charitable sector” refers to the subset of these organizations that have 501(c)(3) public charity status. Section 2 reports on the size and scope of the charitable sector. Charitable organizations are estimated to employ more than 7% of the U.S. workforce, while the broader nonprofit sector is estimated to employ 10% of the U.S. workforce. In 2009, the charities filing Form 990 with the IRS reported approx. $1.4 billion in revenue and reported holding nearly $2.6 billion in assets. Nonprofit institutions serving households (largely charities) constituted more than 5% of GDP in 2008. Section 3 examines how charities are funded. Revenue comes from a variety of sources, including private contributions, payments (fees for service), government grants, and investment income. Revenue sources vary significantly across different types of charities. Section 4 provides an overview of the charitable sector’s relationship with government. The costs to the government of providing grants, allowing charitable contributions to be tax deductible, exempting investment income of charities from tax, and providing property and sales tax exemptions are presented. The oversight role of the government is also reviewed. The report concludes with policy considerations. Tables and figures.
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