Nonprofit Data Project of the Aspen Institute
Since 2007, the Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation has convened leading figures in the field of
nonprofit research and data to discuss and assess our nation's nonprofit data collection system. These meetings have provided
a unique and neutral forum for discussion, deliberation, information-sharing and consensus-building.
Today, as government, civic and business leaders address a wide range of serious challenges, many will reach out to nonprofit
groups for help only to find themselves hampered by a lack of up-to-date information on this important sector in our society.
Those needing to understand and track trends in nonprofit revenue, spending, service provision, employment, volunteering and
other critical aspects of philanthropic activity will find that most of this information, when available at all, is two-years-old
or more. This is too late to deal with problems as they arise, or to signal to communities and policymakers that new challenges
are emerging. What's more, information that is available is sometimes inaccurate, due to problems with misclassification,
inconsistent reporting and other data errors. In short, despite employing nearly 10% of our nation's workforce and contributing
at least 5% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product, the nonprofit sector sorely lacks timely and accurate data.
- Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation: About PSI -- Grantmaking foundations, nonprofit organizations, social enterprises and public-private partnerships offer lasting
solutions to societal challenges. They are at the heart of civil society. This program seeks to inform and maximize the impact
of these social sector actors through leadership development initiatives, convenings, and communications so that each can
contribute to the good society at home and abroad. The Program's theory of change rests on the premise that if their leaders
have clarity about their values, are collaborative in their approach to problem-solving, and are aware of the strategies and
potential partnerships available to them, they are more likely to succeed in advancing the social good. The Program hosts
the Aspen Philanthropy Group, an agenda-setting body of foundation, nonprofit, and private sector leaders at the cutting edge
of change. The issues its members identify are subsequently considered in cross-sector working groups, with the aim of gaining
consensus where possible and spurring collaborative action when opportune. Among the current workshop series is an effort
to ensure high-quality and accessible statistical data on social sector activity. The Impact Economy program strand is committed
to using the convening power of the Aspen Institute to advance this nascent field and nurture a more sustainable, inclusive
andd stable economy. The Program's leadership development initiatives include the American Express Foundation-Aspen Institute
Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders, the Aspen Philanthropy Seminar-Aspen, and the Seminar Series for Mid-America Foundation
CEOs. Through communications and partnerships the Program works to showcase emerging leaders, effective programs and current
trends in philanthropy and to share the knowledge gathered and generated by the Program's convenings.
- Nonprofit Data Project Participants: Primary participants include representatives from GuideStar, the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute,
the Foundation Center, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, and the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns
Hopkins University. Together these groups play a critical role in informing our society of the size and scope of the nonprofit
sector, the level of charitable giving and volunteering, the contribution of the sector to the nation's economy, the level
of employment in the nonprofit sector, nonprofit performance, and other important aspects of social sector activity.
- National Center for Charitable Statistics: at the Urban Institute
- Foundation Center
- Center on Philanthropy: at Indiana University
- Center for Civil Society Studies: at Johns Hopkins University
- Cinthia Schuman Ottinger: For more information on the Nonprofit Data Project, contact Cinthia Schuman Ottinger at firstname.lastname@example.org