March 29, 2006

 A report released by the University of Kentucky Nonprofit Leadership Initiative highlights the social and economic impact of the state’s nonprofit sector.

“More Than Charity: Kentucky Nonprofit Report” features the most recent information and statistics on Kentucky’s nonprofit organizations.

“This report will confirm what many nonprofit leaders have been saying for some time, but will come as a big surprise for others,” said Danielle Clore, director of the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative. “I think it is important that Kentuckians – community leaders, policy makers, the business community, citizens – recognize that the nonprofit sector provides vital services and programs for our communities, all aimed at improving our quality of life. But this report illustrates that the sector is more than services provided; the nonprofit sector has an important impact on Kentucky’s economy.”

The nonprofit sector in Kentucky comprises a vast and diverse set of organizations that include childcare centers, environmental, advocacy, and civil rights groups, hospitals, food pantries, educational institutions, theaters, and faith-based organizations.

The report draws on 2003 data that nonprofit organizations are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, among other sources. Highlights include:

  • Kentucky’s nonprofit sector contributed more than $11 billion to Kentucky’s economy in 2003 and held assets of more than $18 billion. 
  • Kentucky’s nonprofit sector accounts for approximately 9 percent of the gross state product, consistent with the national rate of 9 percent of the gross domestic product.
  • The U.S. nonprofit sector holds assets of more than $1.76 trillion, making the U.S. “nonprofit economy” the sixth largest in the world – larger than the economies of Brazil, Russia, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea.
  • In Kentucky, 3,365 nonprofits had gross receipts of more than $25,000 and were required to file the IRS Form 990. These organizations, often referred to as “reporting” nonprofits, provide much of the data available on the sector. This is only 35 percent of nonprofits registered with the IRS in that year.
  • The major source of revenue for nonprofits in Kentucky is the fees charged for services and programs, accounting for 81 percent of all income received.
  • Private contributions make up 7 percent of nonprofit revenue in Kentucky.  The average charitable contribution of Kentucky itemizers was $2,879, consistent with the national average of 3.7 percent of income donated to nonprofits.
  • Human services organizations make up the largest portion of Kentucky’s reporting charitable nonprofits at 39 percent, but those organizations had only 11.2 percent of nonprofit expenditures and held only 10.8 percent of total assets.
  • The James Graham Brown Foundation of Louisville was the largest foundation in Kentucky, distributing nearly $17 million in 2003.

The full report, including county specific data, is available at

The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative is an outreach program of the UK College of Agriculture.  The Initiative’s mission is to serve, support and strengthen the nonprofit sector in Kentucky. The Initiative provides quality programs and services that encourage nonprofit collaboration, effectiveness, accountability and innovation to strengthen our communities. 



Danielle Clore, (859) 257-1037