The nonprofit sector employs 21.7 million people, about 14% of the U.S. workforce. While hospitals and universities are dominant employers, medium-sized nonprofits still employ 44.9% of personnel. Almost half of nonprofits (mostly foundations) employ nobody at all, and small nonprofits with fewer than 10 employees — while large in number — only employ 1.9% of personnel. It's important to note, however, that the size of the nonprofit is separate from the impact on individuals and society.
Nonprofits in the United States employ more than 21,721,123 people — easily the biggest nonprofit employment statistic. These positions are a combination of full-time and part-time employees — the number of employees reported on organizations' Form W-3 (Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements) — and does not include contractors and indirect employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 155.8 million full and part time workers in 2018, so the nonprofit sector directly employs ~14% of the U.S. workforce.
Looking at organizations for which Cause IQ has 2018-2019 nonprofit employment data, nonprofits overall are not hiring additional employees — the median growth in number of employees is 0.0%. However, total wages and benefits for these organizations is up 3.9%. So while nonprofits overall aren't hiring, they are paying their employees a bit more year-over-year.
Not all nonprofits employ people, whether part time or full time. Almost half of nonprofits have nobody on staff and a payroll of less than $20,000. Most of these are foundations, such as private / family foundations that are completely run by trustees, or are civic and social organizations, such as amateur sports clubs or small community service organizations run by volunteers.
There are 21,811 hospitals (inpatient and outpatient) and private colleges / universities in the United States. They are 4.7% of all nonprofits. However, these 21,811 hospitals and universities employ 11.3 million people, which is 52.0% of all people employed in the nonprofit sector. So hospitals and universities have an outsized influence on sector employment. While this is infrequently acknowledged among nonprofit employment statistics, it is important to know.
There are 95,684 small nonprofits that employ 10 or fewer people. Combined, these nonprofits employ 418,948 people, which is just 1.9% of the 21.7 million people employed by all nonprofits. While these small nonprofits represent 20.7% of all nonprofits, they are a plurality — 38.8% — of nonprofits that actually employ people. As noted above, the size of the nonprofit is separate from the impact on individuals and society, and many small organizations have a large impact (and vice versa).
There are 88,943 nonprofits that employ more than 10 people and are not hospitals or universities. While only 19.2% of all nonprofits, they employ 88,943 people, which is 44.9% of nonprofit employment. These nonprofits mostly have staff sizes between 18 and 82 people, and include human service organizations, trade and professional associations, and labor unions, among many other types of nonprofits.
Nonprofit personnel typically earn between $16,312 and $79,973 per year in wages, benefits, and other compensation. The nonprofits that on average pay the most are science and technology research centers ($79,973), medical research organizations ($75,351), and international and foreign affairs organizations ($73,806). These are specialized organizations that tend to employ highly educated personnel. On the opposite end we see organizations with more part-time workers and a less skilled work force. These include recreation, sports, and social clubs ($16,312), youth development organizations ($17,228), and human services organizations ($21,374). Please note that these nonprofit employment statistics includes both part-time and full-time workers, and different types of nonprofits employ more part-time workers than others. Nonetheless, the trends are still interesting.