Search new Subsidyscope database on federal aid to nonprofits


Subsidyscope nonprofit funding map.

In fiscal year 2008, the federal government gave $38 billion in grants to nonprofit entities and spent $10 billion on non-competed contracts with nonprofits. Billions were also taken in tax expenditures benefiting nonprofits, representing foregone revenues of $50 billion in 2008.

Excluding contracts, that means that the average U.S. household spent $430 a year on programs to nonprofit entities such as universities, hospitals and charities in 2008.

Loans and loan guarantees made by the government, known as risk transfers, also represent a subsidy. In 2008, the federal government lent at more than $7 billion to nonprofits and guaranteed more than $284 million in loans, representing a subsidy of $114 million.

This data and more are available today in a searchable database released by the Sunlight Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts on Subsidyscope, a joint project tracking federal subsidies.

To find out about federal funding and assistance to nonprofit entities in your state, we invite you to search our database of grants and contracts to nonprofits, as well as examine the risk transfers and tax subsidies given to nonprofits.

On the grants search page, nonprofits will only be represented when the recipient type of “other nonprofit” and “private higher education” are checked. Results include more than 25,000 pages of direct expenditures made to those entities between 2000-2009. Users can further filter the results by geographic location or type of assistance. 

Users can then present their results in a bar chart by year and map their results to see overall and per capita spending by state. A list of annual summaries of spending is also available by state and program with a downloadable csv.

On the contracts search page, users can search by keywords for a known recipient or project description, by the vendor type of nonprofits and or educational institutions, or by the extent the contract was competed.Subsidyscope considers contracts not subjected to open competition as likely to contain a subsidy, and our data only imported contracts that weren’t fully competed. These results can also be mapped, charted, and downloaded as a csv.

Based on an analysis of the contracts awarded to nonprofits, Subsidyscope found that approximately 52 percent of those contracts were not competed for fiscal year 2008.

To learn more about Subsidyscope’s approach to this sector, be sure to also read the sector overview and our explanatory pages of the structure of the American nonprofit sector, as well as our examination of direct expenditures to the nonprofit sector.

Keep in mind that the data are only as good as the source. Subsidyscope cannot guarantee the quality of the data published by the government, so users may encounter errors or omissions.