A letter signed by some of the largest Austrian third sector organisations and TSI partner Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Business University Vienna) is calling on the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research and the Economy, the Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protections and the Ministry for Finance to include detailed data on the non-profit sector in the 2015 Austrian Business Report. This open letter comes shortly after TSIs important work on conceptualising the third sector in Europe, an important pre-conditioning for measuring third sector impact in a comparative way.

The 2014 Business Report, issued by the Austrian government, did not feature any data on non-profit sector, despite the more than 230.000 jobs created by non-profit organisations (bearing in mind also the same number of volunteers) and a value creation of an estimated 5 Billion Euros. Signatories remind Ministers that this makes the non-profit sector one of the more important business branches of the country, apart from delivering social services that cater to the common good of society.

Despite commitment by political rerpresentatives to include the non-profit sector in the 2015 Report, authors of the open letter warn that the Statistical Agency of Austria does not actually collect appropriate data on non-profit contributions. They are asking politicians to exert pressure on the Agency to improve data on “this dynamic, highly relevant, and in view of the demographic development increasingly important sector”. They suggest a satellite account as proposed in the United Nations “Handbook on Non-Profit Institutions in the System of National Accounts“, co-authored by TSI partner Lester Salamon of Johns Hopkins University.

Acknowledging that implementing this  particular Accounting System will take time, financial resources and political negotiation authors suggest a list of data that would support non-profit research as well as non-profit practitioners in the meantime:

  1. Number of NPOs by national accounts and number of organisations with legal forms similar to NPOs (i.e. associations and foundations)
  2. Number of employees by sector
  3. NPOs by categories of number of employees
  4. Data on volunteering (number of volunteers, number of hours of volunteering, volunteers “working full-time”) by sector
  5. Income: total income or income structure (at least revenues) by sector
  6. Expenses, at last aggregate wages by sector
  7. Gross value added
  8. Number of members (of associations)
  9. Number of clients

The authors remind of the fact that comparable data are collected for other business sectors, calling on the Austrian Statistical Agency to acknowledge the increasing importance of the non-profit sector in the country.

Signatories represent Caritas Austria, Red Cross Austria, Diakonie Austria, Interest Group of Public Benefit Organisations, Hilfswerk Austria, WUW, SOS Kinderdörfer Austria, Volkshilfe Austria