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Nonprofits: Oregon's $13B industry
Author: by Wendy Culverwell, Portland Business Journal
Posted: May 2, 2012

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If Oregon’s 10,429 active charities were an industry, they would rival the manufacturing sector for sheer impact on Oregon’s economy.

A first-of-its-kind study of the impact of nonprofits on Oregon calculates nonprofits generated $13 billion in revenue in 2010, or 13 percent of Oregon’s private-sector payroll, and 166,131 jobs.

Business Oregon, a state agency, estimates manufacturing accounts for about 10 percent of the state’s private sector jobs.

Nonprofits, including hospitals, religious institutions, foundations and organizations dedicated to a wide range of causes account for about 8 percent of Oregon’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Oregon Nonprofit Sector report is the brainchild of the nonprofit Association of Oregon and Portland State University.

The most wide-ranging evaluation of its kind, the detailed look at Oregon nonprofits paints a surprising portrait of the organizations dedicated to making Oregon a better place. Generally, Oregon nonprofits have struggled to do more with less since the recession, but surprisingly few actually failed. Oregon nonprofits are more likely to collaborate with fellow organizations than elsewhere, resulting in less consolidation than seen elsewhere.

Backers will share results of the study with nonprofit executives and lawmakers when they gather for the 2013 session.

Not surprising, health care and counseling dominate the nonprofit sector, accounting for 102,595 positions or 62 percent of the nonprofit payroll. Oregon’s 52 nonprofit hospitals employ 51,200 people.

Employees of nonprofits earned an average of $39,545, or about 3.5 percent less than counterparts in the private for-profit sector. Interestingly, nonprofit workers in rural areas earned about $1,500 more than average while workers at urban nonprofits earn $2,800 less.

Other highlights:

  • Nearly 1 million Oregonians volunteer nearly 116 million hours to charity per year, the 16th-highest level in the nation. Portland has the second-highest volunteer rate among larger cities, trailing only Minneapolis. Volunteer service is valued at $2.5 billion.
  • Oregon nonprofits are smaller than the national average. In Oregon, 87 percent of nonprofits have revenue of $500,000 or less, compared to 77 percent nationwide. In Oregon, just two percent of nonprofits have more than $10 million in revenue, half the national average.
  • About a quarter of all nonprofits lack enough reserves to last a month, a finding authors said should be cause for alarm.
  • Forty-five percent of Oregon nonprofits say all board members contribute financially to the organization while 31 percent said board members are not expected to make a contribution. Nationally, 71 percent of boards require gifts from members.
  • Of the 10,343 active nonprofits in Oregon, 43 percent are in Portland, 16 percent are in the Southern Willamette Valley, 11 percent are in the Northern Willamette Valley and 10 percent are in Southern Oregon. The balance are spread among rural communities.
  • Religious institutions represent 26 percent of all nonprofits and dominate the sector. Other major players include philanthropy, volunteerism and grant-making institutions representing 14 percent of the total; arts, culture and humanities at 12 percent; human services at 10 percent; and recreation, leisure and sports organizations at 8 percent. Oregon has 263 animal welfare organizations.
  • The state has 1,086 foundations with assets totaling roughly $8 billion. Together, they contribute more than $800 million annually in grants to other nonprofits.

Read more about Oregon’s nonprofit scene on the Nonprofit Association of Oregon website.