Wise Giving Wednesday: The Size of the Charity Workforce

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By H. Art Taylor
President & CEO BBB Wise Giving Alliance
calendar icon Mar 01, 2023

According to the latest available statistics from the IRS, in 2021 there were 1.9 million tax exempt organizations in the United States. The bulk of these, 1.4 million (72%), are tax-exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In fact, the actual total number of charities is higher since this IRS figure does not include houses of worship as well as small organizations (with gross revenues less than $5,000) which are both not required to apply for 501(c)(3) status in order to have charitable tax-exempt status.

These impressive totals do not provide the complete picture. As reported in the latest Independent Sector quarterly review, The Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector, “Historically, the nonprofit sector is the third-largest employer in the U.S. economy and grows jobs four times faster than for-profit organizations” and represents 6.6 percent of the overall workforce. This publication also reports that in the third quarter of 2022, nonprofits contributed $1.5 trillion to the economy.    

About 12 million people work in the nonprofit sector which is equivalent in size to the total number of people employed in manufacturing. This paid nonprofit workforce is further assisted by the 60.7 million people who volunteered between September 2020 and 2021, comprising 23.2 percent of the U.S. population. As estimated by AmeriCorps, this represents 4.1 billion hours with an economic value of $122.9 billion. This total number of volunteers reflects a 7 percent drop from the previous year which, in part, is due to the impact of Covid-19.

While some might think of just soup kitchens and animal shelters when asked about charities, the actual size, scope, and diversity of missions are reflected in hundreds of thousands of organizations that work tirelessly each day to address society’s needs.

Video of the Week

As part of BBB WGA’s Building Trust Video Series, BBB Wise Giving Alliance interviews Jill Reeder, Interim CEO, Pearl S Buck International (a BBB Accredited Charity) which offers opportunities for international exchange, cultural awareness, and diversity appreciation. Their international programs work with affiliate and partner agencies to deliver health care, education, and psycho-social support to children and their families. 

Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast, continues with Part 3 of its conversation about “Office Shock,” a book which reimagines the office and show how we can plan for more sustainable ways of working. Art Taylor, President & CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance interviews one of the book’s co-authors, Dr. Joseph Press, who addresses the architectural aspects about offices of the future.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:
Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

TAGS: Donations , Charity
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