Why nonprofits matter: Quick facts

Published 3:32 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

Did you know that the nonprofit sector in the United States accounts for 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 8 percent of all wages and salaries paid?

Nonprofits are vital for our quality of life our social fabric, culture, and communities.

Delivering needed services – food banks feeding the hungry, hospices caring for the dying.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Educating the public on vital issues – the dangers of smoking, how to stop child abuse.

Finding solutions – cleaning up polluted streams; providing day care for working families.

Engaging people in the community – volunteering with Habitat, serving on boards.

Nurturing our culture – providing music, theater, arts and ways to learn about our history.

Providing a voice for the voiceless – speaking for children or seniors with disabilities.

Most nonprofits are very small. Only a fifth have annual budgets of $100,000 or more but, more than 300 very large nonprofits put more than $10 million each into the North Carolina states economy annually for example, private schools, universities, and hospitals.

North Carolina has 10,000 organizations that are 501(c)(3) nonprofits with annual revenues over $25,000. Community groups smaller than this are also an important part of our civic life.

Nonprofits are struggling to respond to skyrocketing needs with less funding. Economic stress, population growth, and social problems increase the demands on nonprofits. Record numbers of people across North Carolina are seeking help at food banks, crisis assistance centers, homeless shelters, and consumer credit counseling services. At the same time, nonprofits are struggling to raise funds. Foundations and governments have fewer grant dollars. Rising demand for nonprofit services means they need more, not fewer funds.

Many nonprofits have had to lay off employees and cut back on operation hours. &bsp;

Nonprofit employees are highly-educated and committed to their organizations missions. They are private entrepreneurs working in the public interest to solve tough problems

North Carolinians give more than the national average, but less than people in some Southern states. Taxpayers who itemize deductions give an average of 2.8&bsp; percent of their income-more than the 2.3 percent national average, but less than those in South Carolina (2.9 percent).

25.3 percent of North Carolina adults volunteer in the community, same as the national average.

For more information on nonprofits see the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute, www.urban.org or www.ncnonprofits.org. &bsp;

Eloise Thwing is the founder and Director of Thermal Belt Outreach, which is an independent non-profit organization located in Columbus, N.C. For more information, visit our website at http://tboutreach.org.