The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 28, 2003
April 28, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 32


Data Released on Nonprofits Worldwide; JHU-led Effort Tracks 35 Countries

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The world's nonprofit sector engages nearly 40 million people and has annual expenditures of $1.3 trillion, larger than the gross domestic product of all but the six largest countries, according to a new report released this month by Johns Hopkins.

These findings are based on a study of the nonprofit, or civil society, sector conducted by 150 researchers in 35 countries around the world.

According to Lester M. Salamon, director of the study and of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, the data "make clear that the nonprofit sector is a potent presence not only in the developed countries of Europe and North America but also in the developing countries of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia."

Salamon released the latest findings of the Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project at a briefing held April 15 at SAIS. These findings extend the project's coverage to 13 countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia in addition to countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America. Among the findings:

The nonprofit sector represents 5 percent of the gross domestic product of the countries studied.

If this sector in just the 35 countries studied were a nation, it would rank as the seventh largest economy in the world, ahead of Italy, Brazil, Russia, Spain and Canada.

The nonprofit sector in these countries employs the equivalent of 39.5 million full-time workers, making it a major employer. (This includes 21.8 million paid staff and 12.6 million full-time equivalent volunteers.)

The number of people employed in this sector amounts to 46 percent of public sector employment in these countries and 10 times the employment in the utilities and textile industries.

All told, more than 190 million people serve as volunteers in the nonprofit sector in the countries studied.

The nonprofit workforce, both paid and volunteer, is proportionately larger in developed countries than in developing ones. Significant civil society sectors are present, however, in many developing countries as well, especially those in Africa.

The scale of civil society in developing countries remains constrained by limited financial support. Only 22 percent of nonprofit sector revenue comes from government in these countries, a figure that contrasts sharply with that of developed countries.

At least three of the countries studied engage proportionally more nonprofit workers than do U.S. nonprofits.

The nonprofit sector includes hospitals, universities, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, environmental groups, NGOs, sports associations, museums and many other organizations.

For more information on the report, contact Mimi Bilzor at 410-516-8541.