Nonprofit organizations play a growing role in the social and economic well-being of the United States. They provide services, goods and resources to meet community needs. They are businesses, most often charitable, that assist other businesses in the community to drive economic development, the arts, cultural awareness, education, health, and spirituality — virtually every sector of society. As government agencies and the private sector have scaled back their charitable giving in recent years, nonprofits have become indispensable.
The role of nonprofits in society can have ripple effects throughout the economy. A 2012 report by Johns Hopkins University showed that 10.7 million people were employed in the nonprofit sector in 2010 — 10.1 percent of total employment in the U.S. In 2012, the nonprofit sector provided 5.4 percent of the nation’s entire GDP — $887.3 billion.
There are still more businesses than nonprofits, but the number and importance of nonprofit organizations are both increasing. From 2001 to 2011, the number of philanthropic organizations in the U.S. grew 25 percent, while the number of for-profit businesses rose by half of 1 percent, according to the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that conducts economic and social policy research. One reason for the uptick in nonprofits is a higher demand for services after the Great Recession.
Charitable giving in the U.S. now exceeds pre-recession levels, according to “Giving USA 2015,” written and researched by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and published by Giving USA Foundation. Charitable donations in 2014 topped $358.38 billion, a 7.1 percent increase from 2013, greater than the highest amount of charitable giving that occurred in any year before the recession. A recent study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that many of the largest foundations had assets that reached their highest level since the recession.
The Importance of Nonprofit Organizations in an MPA Program
Executive directors, staff, board members and volunteers of a nonprofit — as well as students pursuing a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree — can learn how to foster this increased fundraising for their own organizations through professional development courses and programs. Many students earn an MPA degree to assume nonprofit positions such as executive director, president, director of development, grants manager, grant writer and marketing director. MPA students learn how a nonprofit can meet the diverse needs of individuals, families and communities; how to cover and manage direct service costs and the costs of fund development; how an organization must comply with multiple regulations of public funding; and how to recruit and maintain qualified boards and donors.
Nonprofit organizations will continue to play a significant role in society and the economy. And they will continue to require the type of skilled administrators and leaders an MPA program can provide.
Learn more about the A-State online MPA program.