Membership groups suffer job loss from recession

Nonprofit membership organizations in Indiana that count on members for voluntary and financial support have taken a big hit from the recent recession and recovery, a new report says.

Indiana membership nonprofits lost over 1,000 employees and over $15.6 million in payroll, adjusted for inflation, from 2007 to 2011, says “Indiana Nonprofit Employment: Historical Tends in Membership and Related Organizations, 1995-2011” from Indiana University and Johns Hopkins University.

Before the recession, membership groups grew, the report says, with employment at those organizations increasing 8 percent and inflation-adjusted payroll growing 32 percent from 1995 to 2011.

For that period, membership organizations employed 12 percent of all nonprofit employees in the state, on average, and paid 8 percent of all Indiana nonprofit payroll, on average.

Nonprofit membership groups face no for-profit competition because there are no for-profit membership groups, although nonprofit membership industry groups may compete with one another, particularly for members’ time and resources, the report says.

Within each of five membership-group industries — civic and social; business, professional, labor and political; grantmaking and giving services ; social advocacy; and religious — some charities vastly outperformed other nonprofits not registered with the IRS as 501(c)3 charities in growth in employment and payroll.

Employment from 1995 to 2011 grew by nearly half at charitable civic groups, for example, but fell by over a fourth at other civic nonprofits.

And the impact of the recession varies among industry groups.

While employment loss was minimal at grantmaking and social advocacy organizations, for example, jobs have declined steadily at business and professional organizations, which lost over 1,600 employees from 2000 to 2011.

 The report is a joint project of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana Business Research Center at the Kelley School of Business, and Lilly School of Philanthropy, all at Indiana University, and the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Todd Cohen

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