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Home  > Article

International Nonprofit Work

By Erdin Beshimov

If you're interested in the nonprofit sector with a view of working abroad, here are some interesting statistics.

Researchers Lester Salamon, Wojciech Sokolowski and Regina List of the John Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (2004) stress that the nonprofit sector is one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries. If the nonprofit sector was a country on its own, it would be the world's seventh largest economy. Its annual GDP would be $1.3 trillion, ahead of Italy, Brazil, Russia, Spain, and Canada, and only behind the United States, Japan, China, Germany, UK, and France.

In the 35 developed and developing countries surveyed, the nonprofit sector is a major employer with a total workforce of 39.5 million full-time workers and 190 million volunteers, more than the entire population of Russia.

Furthermore, the total number of nonprofit professionals is higher than the combined employment in the largest private company in the United States and Western Europe, according to a study by Lester Salamon and Helmut Anheier from the John Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies. There are more nonprofit professionals in Germany than those employed by the country's largest company Daimler-Benz; more in the U.S. than the number of workers at General Motors; and more in Japan than the number of employers at Hitachi.

Internationally, the nonprofit sector employs 10 times more people than the utilities and the textile industries, five times more people than the food manufacturing industry, and 20 percent more people than the transportation industry.

In addition to its significant economic scale, the nonprofit sector has a tremendous social impact internationally. Nonprofit organizations represent:

  • four out of every 10 hospital patient stays and virtually all sports facilities in Germany;
  • one-third of all child day care and 55 percent of all residential care in France;
  • over half of all hospital beds and half of all universities in the United States;
  • over 75 percent of all universities and over 40 percent of all hospital patient days in Japan;
  • twenty percent of all attendees of orchestra and opera performances in Sweden;
  • over 20 percent of all primary and elementary education in the UK; and
  • 41 percent of all residential care facilities and 21 percent of all kindergartens in Italy.

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