US nonprofit sector valued at $3 trillion

Nonprofits have been processing donations a lot lately. According to the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income Winter Bulletin, the nonprofit sector was worth a collective $2.9 trillion in assets in 2010 - a 9 percent increase from the year prior.

Based on a sample of more than 186,000 annual finance report forms known as 990 and 990-EZ in 2010 - the latest data made available -  the Statistics of Income Winter Bulletin is able to estimate how much a charity is worth given its Form 990 return. Religious organizations and groups with less than $50,000 in gross receipts do not need to file Form 990, the NonProfit Times reported.

Statistician Paul Arnsberger wrote that of the 1.28 million active nonprofits recognized by the federal government, just 21 percent filed form 990 or Form 990-EZ. 

Large charities own majority of wealth
Entities that reported annual assets of $50 million or more combined for a total of $2.39 trillion, the NonProfit Times said. However, these groups also made up the smallest sample size of those who filled out Form 990; just over 6,500 large-scale nonprofits filed an annual financial report.

Conversely, those with the most Form 990 reports were nonprofits with assets between $1 million and $10 million.

The report also found that nonprofits brought in nearly $1.6 trillion in gross revenue, an 8 percent increase year-over year. Net revenue doubled across the board from $46.7 billion to $95.5 billion, the NonProfit Times added. 2010 was a promising year for smaller nonprofits, as those that made less than $100,000 and groups that earned $100,000 to $500,000 made $1.4 billion and $622 million, respectively.

Charities raising more money
Recent years have boded well for charitable organizations. In 2010, two-thirds of respondents to The Nonprofit Research Collaborative's "2010 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey" said contributions to their organization either grew or stayed the same from the year prior. 

That number has increased in recent years, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative has found. According to its 2012 study, 58 of survey respondents saw fundraising increase that year - the highest percentage since 2006. Donation processing was a common occurrence for charitable foundations in 2012. Sixty-three percent of respondents said their nonprofits met their fundraising goal, the largest number in the NRC's history.

In 2013, similar 62 percent of survey respondents said their charities raised more funds than they did the year prior, the NRC found. Sixty-seven percent of nonprofits met their fundraising goals last year, the NonProfit Times added - the highest figure since the recession began. All sectors of nonprofits, excluding the Religion and Arts, and Culture and Humanities, saw 60 percent or more of their organizations raise more money than the year before.

In addition to slight economic growth over recent years, the advent of charity auction software is a likely driver in the steady gains in total donations over the same time. Total contributions in 2010 reached a staggering $340.5 billion - a 7.5 percent increase from the year before. 

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