Bringing the Economy Home

The Economic Power of Idaho’s Nonprofits

The Idaho Nonprofit Center is holding its annual conference in Boise this week.  University of Idaho economist Steve Peterson gave one of the headline presentations this morning, unveiling the preliminary results of his Idaho Nonprofit Sector Economic Impact report.

According to Peterson’s study (funded, in part, by the Idaho Nonprofit Center) nonprofits are a big deal to the state economy.  Here are some key findings, so far:

  • Idaho’s nonprofit sector directly employs nearly 40,000 workers, who collectively earn about $1.5 billion in wage and salary income.
  • The sector directly or indirectly employs about 57,000 workers.
  • The total economic impact to the state of the nonprofit sector and volunteer hours is about $7 billion.
  • The nonprofit sector, if it were a separate industry, would be the 10th biggest in Idaho.

Those listening in to Peterson’s talk were thinking ahead to how they might use the information in conversations with potential donors, the public, and legislators.  “I think it helps demonstrate and quantify the kind of impact, and the way that nonprofits fit into the community,” said Alison Beck Haas of Boise Valley Habitat for Humanity.  “I think our first step as nonprofits is to say, ‘You may not be aware of where we fit in.'”

Economist Peterson says that, despite its impressive claims for the sector, his assessment is a conservative one.  “We’ve been meticulous to make sure that no money was double-counted,” he said.  “On multiple levels, I think these numbers are very conservative.”

The final report is due out by late November, in plenty of time for the start of Idaho’s legislative session.


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