Nonprofits Generate 15 Percent of California’s State GDP, Study Finds

Nonprofits Generate 15 Percent of California’s State GDP, Study Finds

The nonprofit sector is the fourth-largest industry in California and accounts for 15 percent of the economic activity in the state, a report from the California Association of Nonprofits finds.

According to the report, Causes Count: The Economic Power of California's Nonprofit Sector (60 pages, PDF), the more than 25,000 nonprofit organizations and 50,000 grassroots or voluntary groups in the state employ nearly a million people — or 6 percent of all those employed in California — control $328 billion in assets, generate $208 billion in annual revenues, and account for $260 billion in goods and services produced. In addition, the report found that private foundations in the state award grants totaling $2 billion a year; that volunteers contribute more than $24.7 million in unpaid labor each year; and that nonprofits, though exempt from most taxes, still contributed $37 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue in 2012.

The report also found that California's nonprofit workforce is more racially and ethnically diverse than the adult civilian workforce as a whole; that more than 80 percent of the Californians surveyed are confident that nonprofits act on the public's behalf and deliver quality services; and that nonprofits in the state are actively involved in civic life, with 79 percent of the nonprofit leaders surveyed saying they meet with public officials and their staffs on a regular basis, 53 percent saying they belong to an association or coalition that advocates on behalf of their cause or issue, and 42 percent saying their organizations work to boost civic participation in their respective communities.

"While sometimes portrayed as too small to matter, this report shows that California's nonprofit sector is too big to overlook," CalNonprofits CEO Jan Masaoka told California Newswire. "Not only do our state's nonprofits uniquely represent the dreams and visions of California’s varied communities, but they are robust with human and financial capital."