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U.S. Ranks Seventh in Study of International Nonprofit Sectors

(Jan. 21, 2005) The United States ranks only seventh in the world in its level of private philanthropy as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

Excluding giving to religion, for which data are unavailable for other countries, American giving accounted for only 2.5 percent of GDP, compared to the Netherlands at 4.5 percent and Sweden at 4.4 percent. These figures include both financial donations and volunteer work, which was valued at the average wage of a community worker.

Other countries with giving rates higher than the United States included Norway, France, and the United Kingdom. In Latin America, Argentina's giving rate was 1.4 percent, Brazil's percentage was 0.27 percent and Mexico's giving rate was 0.12 percent.

'The report underlines the strength of nonprofit sectors around the world,' said AFP President and CEO Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE. 'North America does not have a corner on the market when it comes to vibrant and effective nonprofit sectors.'

Regarding the ranking of seventh in giving as a percentage of GDP, Maehara noted that the U.S. has by far the largest population of any of the top fifteen countries. 'Given the vast number of people in the United States, it's quite impressive that overall giving as a percentage of GDP is that high.'

Additional Data Available on Volunteerism, Employment

The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project is a systematic effort to analyze the scope, structure, financing, and role of the private nonprofit sector in a cross-section of countries around the world. The project hopes to improve the knowledge and enrich the theoretical understanding of this sector, and to provide a sounder basis for both public and private action towards it.

The project also reveals data about levels of volunteerism, sources of support, number of employees by subsector (healthcare, education, etc.) and changes in nonprofit revenue and employment.

The current research does not include data on Canada's nonprofit sector and philanthropic giving, but a future study is expected to include that country's information.

The Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project was develop by a team of researchers around the world, led by Lester Salamon, based at the Center for Civil Studies at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies.

More information and study findings are available at the project website. Figures and tables for this data are available in PDF format.

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