ary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.” This definition includes charitable organizations and private foundations. Well-known sponsors of R&D are family foundations (e.g., Packard and Ford), issue-specific foundations (e.g., Susan G. Komen and the American Association for Cancer Research), and corporate foundations (e.g., Intel and Amgen). Well-known recipients of R&D funds are research institutes (e.g., SRI and Battelle), hospitals, and universities and colleges. Some nonprofit institutions are known both as funders and as recipients, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (which is an operating unit of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation). One key statistic relevant to data collection on nonprofit organizations is the high degree of concentration in grant-making: the largest organizations, which make up less than 1 percent of all nonprofit organizations, account for 59 percent of all nonprofit grant funding.1

Alexander said that there is a useful taxonomy, the National Taxonomy for Exempt Entities, which is a classification by organizational mission. There are 26 major groups, with a leading letter that indicates area of primary interest, and each group has two-digit subcategories. Codes are assigned by IRS examiners for tax purposes. Three groups—U20, H30, and V05—are particularly relevant to this discussion. U20 covers organizations that focus broadly on scientific research and inquiry or that engage in interdisciplinary scientific activities (e.g., the Research Triangle Institute); H30 covers organizations that conduct research to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer (e.g., the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center); and V05 covers organizations whose primary purpose is to carry out research or policy analysis in the social sciences (e.g., the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research).

Alexander then discussed changes in the scale and nature of the non-profit sector since 1996. First, the number of nonprofit organizations increased from less than 60,000 in 1999 to more than 90,000 in 2008. During the same period, grants by nonprofit organizations increased from about $20 billion to more than $50 billion (in nominal dollars). Between 1998 and 2009, the organizations’ assets increased by about 50 percent, including the market correction in 2008-2009. Another major change is that many of what are now the largest private foundations were started quite recently: only two foundations listed among the ten largest funders of science and technology grants in 1998 remained in the top ten in 2010.


1 Data from National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) data on 501(c)3 private foundations. Available: [March 2013].

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