Organizations that support nonprofits in the U.S. are quick to point out the contribution these organizations make to the economy. $1 trillion in assets, $2 trillion in revenue, 10% of jobs or GDP - the economic impact of the sector is used as evidence for all kinds of arguments.
The data behind these numbers, and the methods for calculating them, have typically come from government filings of labor statistics, tax records, contracts, and charitable giving and are crunched by research institutes, scholars, and advocacy groups.
Like every other sector, there are new data sources coming online that may add to our understanding of the social sector. Today, LinkedIn announced its EconomicGraph Challenge - an opportunity to use the company's data on jobs and job openings to ask new research questions. This is exciting and I hope a good number of researchers jump in to ask new questions (or add the data to existing research projects) about the social sector.
Some things I'd like to know:
- What's the turnover rate of people working in nonprofits?
- How do salaries really compare for jobs with similar titles in nonprofit, commercial and public settings?
- What can we learn about professional "sector hopping?" What patterns can be seen in how people move from nonprofit to commerce to public sector jobs (and back) over time?
- How long do nonprofit chief executives hold their jobs?
- What professional profiles are nonprofits looking for in terms of board members (LinkedIn for Good facilitate volunteer openings)
- What might these data show about volunteering, interning, and getting a paid position?
- How do jobs and job titles compare across countries?
- What do these data show us about organizational structures around the globe?
- What types of networks can we see between specific nonprofits and specific universities?
- What types of networks can we see between board members of nonprofits and companies? (or nonprofits and government agencies?)
- What skills are nonprofits actually hiring for?
- Can we predict skills gaps from these data? Can we identify educational and job training opportunities?
- What questions do you have?
I'm hopeful that lots of research proposals will flow in that will put LinkedIn's data to use to better understand what work is in the social sector and how the social sector works.
Proposals for the research are due by December 15. Details are here. Challenge rules are here. I am not affiliated with LinkedIn or its challenge. I'm encouraging students and researchers at Stanford (and, via this blog posts, anywhere else) to consider the challenge.