Comparing Nonprofit Sectors Around the World: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It?


  • John Casey Baruch College, City University of New York



international comparisons, comparative nonprofit research, national nonprofit sectors


The expansion of nonprofit sectors in most countries around the world during the last decades has spurred interest in comparative research. This article documents and analyses the most significant primary sources that can be used to analyze the size and salience of nonprofit sectors in different countries. The focus is on five major research projects: the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project, National Satellite Accounts, CIVICUS Civil Society Index, USAID CSO Sustainability Index, and the NGO Law Monitor. Additionally, the article documents numerous other studies that measure key indicators impacting the sector. These multiple sources often draw seemingly contradictory conclusions. Nonetheless, they can be used to trace the contours of cultural frames—[Neo]Liberal, Corporatist, Social Democratic, Emerging, Developing and Authoritarian—that inform our understanding of how nonprofit sectors operate under diverse political, economic, and social conditions and allow observers to situate the dynamics of the nonprofit sector of any one country in the broader context of other similar polities.