Nonprofits Spending More on Staff, Adding Volunteer Hours, Study Finds

Nonprofit employment and wages remained steady through the Great Recession and even outpaced some sectors of the economy the NonProfit Times reports.

According to The Nonprofit Almanac, 2016: The Essential Facts and Figures for Managers, Researchers, and Volunteers, updated and released by the Urban Institute, growth in the sector occurred mostly in the health care and social assistance sectors, which include hospitals, mental health centers, crisis hotlines, blood centers, soup kitchens, senior centers, and similar organizations. That growth came at the cost of significant deficit spending, however, with the sector as a whole running deficits of between 4 percent and 8 percent of its total revenue each year since 2008.

The report also found that nonprofits paid an estimated $425 billion in wages in 2003 and, over the next decade, saw that climb to $634 billion, an increase of 49 percent (18 percent after adjusting for inflation), while wages in the hospital subsector increased from $196 billion in 2003 to $313 billion in 2013, the largest absolute growth for any subsector. The report also found that over the past fifteen years, volunteering rates on a national basis largely held steady but then began to decline three or four years ago and reached an all-time low in 2015.

"Total volunteer hours, however, tell a different story," said Nathan Dietz, senior research associate at the Urban Institute, with "a lot more bouncing around in the total number the last few years. The trend [in volunteering] has been a slight increase, if you see any change at all. What that says to me is organizations that use volunteers are depending on the work at least as much as they ever have, if not more, especially as they take on new assignments and activities."

Mark Hrywna. "Nonprofits Paid Staff $634 Billion, Running Deficits." NonProfit Times 10/24/2016.