Measuring growth of the nonprofit sector: The choice of indicator matters



Pennerstorfer A & Rutherford A (2019) Measuring growth of the nonprofit sector: The choice of indicator matters. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 48 (2), pp. 440-456.

Interestingly, although many authors consent that non-profit organizations and the non-profit sector have grown in many countries, there is little discussion of how to best measure this growth. Looking at the broad universe of non-profit organizations, there is no single measure that is relevant for the whole sector and captures changes adequately. This article gives an overview of commonly-used growth measures in the existing non-profit literature and discusses the informative value of the various measures. Using Austrian and Scottish time-series data we present an empirical example of how the growth story of the non-profit sector can change depending on the measures used. The correlations between measures such as the number of organizations, income/expenditures and assets are particularly small. We recommend that researchers measuring the growth of the non-profit sector should be clear about the properties of their selected measure, and where possible should present alternative measures in their analysis.

growth; growth measures; non-profit sector; Austria; Scotland;

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly: Volume 48, Issue 2

Publication date01/04/2019
Publication date online26/12/2018
Date accepted by journal27/10/2018

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Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology