Carlisle History

A living history of Carlisle, PA

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NON-PROFITS IN CARLISLE: History of Non-profits in the U.S.

Introduction | History of Welfare Systems
History of Non-Profit Organizations

 Poverty and Non-Profits     Funding Challenges of Non-Profits    The “Bigger Picture”   

 Interview with Jeff Conway-Carlisle United Way     Interview with Dale Cross-Employment Skills Center

History of Non-profit Organizations

Though Voluntary organizations endorsed by private contributions have existed in the United States since the mid-eighteenth century, they have only recently become an omnipresent aspect of American society. “In 1940, there were only 12,500 secular charitable tax-exempt organizations; today there are over 700,000.”[1] A non-profit organization, as the name implies, is a type of business that serves “a purpose of public or mutual benefit other than the pursuit or accumulation of profits.” Though most non-profits do not gain revenue, the organizations are not prohibited from doing so as long as the profit-making activities are related to “recognized nonprofit purpose.” Congress and state legislatures determine which types of non-profit organizations qualify to be exempt from taxes. “It is also decreed that society should support and foster many such organizations.”[2] When people think of non-profits, they often think of religious and charitable, or “public-benefit” organizations. These organizations essentially provide social services and address the needs of a community. Therefore, in regard to the increasing rates of poverty, unemployment, and numbers of dependent people relying on aid and relief programs, presence of non-profit organizations throughout the United States has grown accordingly to meet the needs of the lower classes.


[1] Dobkin Hall, Peter, Inventing the Nonprofit Sector, (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992) 13[2] “What is a Nonprofit Corporation?” http://www.not-for-profit.org/page2.htm