Database Shows 36% Of Charities Up 10%

November 21, 2016       Mark Hrywna      

The largest growth among arts organizations of any metropolitan area in the last five years occurred in Portland, Ore. Immigrant organizations are growing in Minneapolis, Minn., as quickly as they are in cities like New York. In New Orleans, where nonprofits grew dramatically in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2006, the sector is still growing strong a decade after the disaster.

Those are just some of the insights gleaned through a new data tool unveiled by The Urban Institute that allows users to explore the nonprofit sector’s gains and losses by metropolitan area over the past 20 years.

The Urban Institute analyzes changes in nonprofits’ gross receipts (or the funds received from all sources in a fiscal year) to track the sector. In 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, 36 percent of public charities grew financially by more than 10 percent over the previous year. About 28 percent saw gross receipts decline, falling more than 10 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Shena Ashley, director of the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, encourages people to use the tool to take a closer look at the nonprofit sector within their communities. (http://apps.urban.org/features/nonprofit-gains-and-losses/)  The nonprofit sector employs an estimated 14.4 million people, about 1 in 10 employees in the United States, and makes up 5.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

About 4.3 percent of reporting nonprofits disappeared from the rolls between 2004 and 2008 and about 5 percent between 2008 and 2012. It’s unclear from tax forms whether those nonprofits have closed, gone dormant to re-emerge later, were absorbed by a larger organization, or have shrunk to the point that they no longer must report to the IRS.

All analyses reflect Urban Institute analysis of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 data for the fiscal years 1994 to 2014. Results and figures reflect Urban Institute analysis of the National Center for Charitable Statistics PC Fiscal Year Trend File (1998–2013) and the IRS Business Master File (December 2015).

Findings are based on changes in gross receipts for a given public charity from one fiscal year to the next. Results reflect only active, reporting public charities. The nonprofit sector includes public charities and private foundations, both classified as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, as well as other 501(c) organizations granted tax-exempt status. Almost 1 million of the 1.41 million registered nonprofits in the United States — and almost 300,000 of the 500,000 actively reporting nonprofits — are public charities.

Results include only public charity organizations filing for both years within a given two-year period. Charities filing in only one of the given years are excluded. Religious congregations and other organizations not required to file Form 990s also are excluded from analysis.

Organizations are classified by type according to their National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities code. City area location information is based on the US Census Bureau’s delineations of core based statistical areas for the 50 largest core based statistical areas.