Early results from the adoption of new United Nations
reporting guidelines reveal that the worldwide nonprofit
sector is far larger and more dynamic than previously
recognized, a Johns Hopkins professor reported last week at
the 59th Annual U.N. Nongovernmental Organization
Issued in 2003, the U.N. Handbook on Nonprofit
Institutions in the System of National Accounts calls on
national statistical agencies to document explicitly the
size and economic importance of civil society, philanthropy
and volunteering for the first time, and countries are
responding energetically to this call, Lester Salamon said.
Salamon is director of the Center for
Civil Society Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, which
developed the handbook in collaboration with the U.N.
Statistics Division and is now spearheading implementation
"We set a goal of securing commitments from 30
countries to implement this handbook by 2008," Salamon
said, "and we already have 26 countries committed. What is
more, nine of these countries have already produced the
'satellite accounts' on nonprofit institutions that the
handbook calls for, and the results are quite striking."
Canada's nonprofit sector,
including the value of volunteer work, accounts for nearly
8 percent of the country's gross domestic product, more
than the country's retail trade and its mining, oil and gas
The contribution made to Canada's
GDP by volunteers equals the contribution by the country's
Excluding the value of volunteer
time, nonprofits in the United States account for nearly 5
percent of GDP, more than agriculture, forestry, fishing
and hunting; mining; utilities; construction;
transportation and warehousing; and information.
Employment among French nonprofits
has grown by one-third over the past decade.
The contribution to GDP of
Australia's nonprofit sector exceeds that of utilities,
accommodations and restaurants, and communications.
In the United States, nonprofit
contribution to GDP grew faster than GDP itself during the
period 1996-2004 (on average, 4.2 percent per year vs. 3.3
percent per year, adjusting for inflation).
In Belgium, the nonprofit sector's
contribution to GDP grew at well over three times the rate
of the entire economy between 2000 and 2003 (4.7 percent
vs. 1.3 percent).
"Thanks to these new data, nonprofit organizations are
gaining new visibility and credibility around the world,"
Salamon said. "But with this new visibility comes new
responsibility for conscientiousness and competence,
responsibilities that nonprofit organizations are
fortunately now increasingly recognizing."
For further information on the U.N. Nonprofit
Institutions Handbook and on the results of implementation
to date, go to