2019 Nonprofit Sector in Brief

The sector brief discusses trends in the number and finances of 501(c)(3) public charities and key data insights on important resources for the nonprofit sector, such as: private charitable contributions and grantmaking by foundations.


Approximately 1.54 million nonprofits were registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2016, an increase of 4.5 percent from 2006.

The nonprofit sector contributed an estimated $1.047.2 trillion to the US economy in 2016, composing 5.6 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

Of the nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS, 501(c)(3) public charities accounted for just over three-quarters of revenue and expenses for the nonprofit sector as a whole ($2.04 trillion and $1.94 trillion, respectively) and just under two-thirds of the nonprofit sector's total assets ($3.79 trillion).

In 2018, total private giving from individuals, foundations, and businesses totaled $427.71 billion (Giving USA Foundation 2019), a decrease of -1.7 percent from 2017 (after adjusting for inflation). According to Giving USA (2018) total charitable giving rose for consecutive years from 2014 to 2017, making 2017 the largest single year for private charitable giving, even after adjusting for inflation.

An estimated 25.1 percent of US adults volunteered in 2017, contributing an estimated 8.8 billion hours. This is a 1.6 percent increase from 2016. The value of these hours is approximately $195.0 billion.

More Resources

Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project

A project advancing research and practice on nonprofit regulatory frameworks and their impact on the sector


National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) Codes

IRS Activity Codes Used to Categorize Nonprofits


Nonprofit Trends and Impacts

A nationally representative survey of nonprofits