The Urban Institute has released a study of the scope, size and revenue of nonprofits focused on international needs and agendas. Their data covered the approximately 5,600 501(c)3 nonprofits working in the international arena with annual revenue over $25,000 and filing IRS 990s on FY2003 (thus excluding many religious nonprofits who are exempt form the reporting requirement).

The international sector makes up 2% of all nonprofits and accounts for 2% of charitable revenue in the U.S. Three categories make up the sector, which in total generated $17.7 billion in revenue in FY2003:

    • International development and assistance organizations, with 74% of the groups and 89% of the revenue (e.g., Worldvision, Physicians for Human Rights);
    • International understanding organizations, with 16% of the groups and 6% of the revenue (e.g., International Student Exchange, Sister Cities);
    • International affairs organizations, with 11% of the groups and 5% of the revenue (e.g., Council on Foreign Relations, Americans for Peace Now).

Among the more cause-oriented segments:

    • Environment, population and sustainability orgs accounted for $1.5 billion;
    • Human rights, migration and refugee orgs accounted for $0.94 billion;
    • Peace and arms control orgs accounted for just $0.12 billion.

Other takeaways from this interesting profile:

    • 75% of the orgs in the sector are quite small, with less than $500,000 in revenue (one wonders how much impact such organizations can have on international needs and agendas);
    • private contributions make up 70% of total revenue in the sector;
    • government grants, which make up 20% of the sector's overall revenue, tend to be gobbled up by the largest organizations … the 11% with revenues over $2 million got 43% of the grants;
    • an alarming percentage of orgs, from 39% to 47% across the three categories, operate in the red financially;
    • an encouraging development — concentrated ethnic communities across the U.S. show increasing tendency to channel small private donations to their homelands through international nonprofits.

All in all, it just seems like a piddling amount of money to be devoted to the most urgent issues confronting an interdependent planet. Sure puts the welcome new philanthropy of folks like Gates, Buffett and Branson in perspective!

This article was posted in: Uncategorized.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.