Built for Texas: The Impact and Opportunity of Our Nonprofit Sector logo


Texas nonprofits play a significant role in communities across Texas. As dynamic entities, nonprofits can offer a range of supports tailored to their communities, such as: providing critical services, convening stakeholders to address specific needs, creating long-term impact to improve the quality of life in our communities, and serving as employers to generate financial and social return to the economy of our state.


The report Built for Texas: The Impact and Opportunity of Our Nonprofit Sector serves as a vehicle to unite, rally, and strongly articulate the added value—as well as the capacity limitations—of the overall sector. The data and findings in Built for Texas contribute to a fuller, more informed understanding of the nonprofit sector in Texas and its contribution to the state’s economy. Built for Texas incorporates simple yet specific calls to action to magnify the contributions and potential of Texas nonprofits.

Imagine how powerful it would be if leaders in all sectors looked at the data in this report to better understand the value of the nonprofit sector and invited nonprofit leaders to the table when making important community and state-level decisions.

  • Philanthropy and grant makers convened communities to better understand the positive impact and capacity limitations and barriers of the nonprofit sector to respond to community needs.

  • Business leaders incorporated the work of nonprofits into economic and workforce development strategies.

  • Elected officials and candidates for public office had a better understanding of the role nonprofits play and the impact nonprofits have in their communities, and used their influence to advocate to build the capacity of the nonprofit sector.

Frequently Asked Questions

Every nonprofit can and should get involved in advocacy to help advance its mission. Representatives of nonprofit organizations can educate and inform decision-makers, including policymakers with the expertise, experience, and real-life stories necessary to find solutions to complex community problems. Additionally, advocacy shapes the public debate about issues that affect nonprofits. It’s the number one way nonprofits can focus attention on the issues they care about and bring about real change for the people and causes they serve.

Yes, nonprofits are permitted to move beyond advocacy (e.g. educate and inform policymakers and the public) and lobby. Lobbying is the practice of influencing policymakers or their staff by expressing a position on a specific piece of legislation (known as direct lobbying) as well as mobilizing advocates to contact their legislators about that legislation (known as grassroots lobbying).

Nonprofits play an important role in the local, state and national economies. Businesses and governments have recognized that mission-driven nonprofit organizations offer something unique – leverage of social, financial and human capital – that is necessary to advance the common good and provide essential services to support a thriving community.

In Texas, the nonprofit community has doubled in size over the last decade, averaging a growth rate of 10% every year. The majority of nonprofits are small in both budget size and number of employees and are structurally underdeveloped to meet the growing community needs. It is important government and business understand the current limitations of nonprofits and help facilitate ways to support and build the capacity of nonprofits to be better partners in service and innovation.

Nonprofits are called to respond to urgent needs in the community, and to do so with funding streams (grants, contracts, and donations) that tend to be less secure than those of for-profits. For this reason, nonprofits are forced to do more with fewer resources. Although this revenue cycle suggests great efficiency; it is not conducive to developing an organizational structure that supports financial sustainability nor viability to meet the growing demands of community needs.

The term ‘nonprofit’ is a misnomer. Nonprofits can make a profit. The key point is that nonprofit organizations are able to put revenue back into its organizational budget and are prohibited to distribute dividends to individuals, otherwise seen as furthering ‘private benefit’. For more information, review the state and federal laws pertinent to nonprofits. (This response is adapted from National Council of Nonprofits, “Myths about Nonprofits”)

Nonprofits must apply for tax-exempt status, a federal designation, to avoid paying federal taxes. This designation is then passed on to its financial and in-kind contributors who can receive tax-deductible benefits. The tax-exempt status serves as an advantage to nonprofits as an incentive to advance their common good missions.

The Texas nonprofit sector as a whole is often overlooked, in part because it lacks a single voice or advocate to trumpet its successes and learnings. In reality, this largely invisible sector is an incredible asset to Texas’ economy and the very fabric of our communities. Built for Texas is a multi-year, multifaceted collaborative effort that will elevate the power and role of the nonprofit sector, its value to local communities and the state. Key goals include:

  • Raise visibility to shape public perception and understanding of the Texas nonprofit sector
  • Empower the Texas nonprofit sector to be effective advocates and build strong relationships with systems’ leaders
  • Advocate for public policies that support and strengthen the success of all Texas nonprofits


If you are interested in learning more about the Built for Texas report, or if you are interested in joining our network to raise your voice on behalf of Texas nonprofits, please contact us using this form:

The research for Built for Texas provides an economic estimate of the vast contribution Texas nonprofits make to the lives of Texans and to the continuing prosperity of our state. The report’s economic analysis was conducted by The Perryman Group in collaboration with the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Bush School at Texas A&M University. Funding and strategic direction was provided by The Meadows Foundation, OneStar, the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School at The University of Texas at Austin, and United Ways of Texas.

This report and related sector engagement work is made possible by a group of funding and research partners dedicated to the idea that strong nonprofits make strong communities:

Special thanks to Erica Ekwurzel, consultant and writer, and Karli Isiyel, designer.