06 May

Nonprofit Workforce in the US: Just the Facts

Sometimes we hear that people are surprised to learn that nonprofits employ people, or that one can earn a living wage at a nonprofit organization. According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2022, about 6.5% of all employed people in the US worked for a nonprofit organization. The proportion in Wisconsin is a little higher than the national average.

It is true that the vast majority of nonprofits are small. In terms of employment, 39% of nonprofits that have any paid employees have fewer than 5, as shown in this analysis from 2017.

However, if you’re planning to work in the nonprofit sector, chances are good that you’ll wind up at an organization that is a larger employer. 84% of nonprofit employees work at an organization that employs at least 100 people, and over half work at organizations that have at least 1,000 employees.

BLS analysis shows that the largest employers in the nonprofit sector tend to be in education or health care. In Wisconsin, 92.5% of hospitals are nonprofits, so that would hold true here.

The average wage tends to increase with the size of the organization, as well. This chart with BLS data from 2017 shows that while the average wage at an organization that employs 1-5 people was $37, 360, including both professional and non-professional staff, at a very large organization that average wage jumped to $65,330. For comparison, the average wage nationally in 2017 for all non-government jobs was $55,338, and $53,667 for nonprofits.

And in 2022, the median usual weekly earning for full-time workers was a healthy $1,163, higher than the median in the for-profit sector, and similar to the median in the government sector.

Among employer types, you’re more likely to hold a management or professional position in a nonprofit setting than any other kind of employer, according to BLS data from 2022. So it’s not surprising that nonprofit employees also tend to be highly educated — nearly 2 in 3 have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and more than one-quarter hold a Master’s. Members of the nonprofit workforce are also very likely to hold professional certifications. And this sector can also bring a great deal of flexibility as an employer – more than 19% of people employed by nonprofit organizations work part time. Only people who are self-employed have a higher proportion of part-time workers.

In short, not only can one find paid employment within the sector, it is one in which many people find and build fulfilling careers.

For resources on finding nonprofit jobs in the area, see our post

For information about educational programs at UW-W that focus on nonprofit management, see

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