1. Non-profit institutions

2. Foundations


1. Non-profit institutions

Data in this section of the yearbook refer to the first census survey on non-profit institutions (NPIs) and enterprises conducted by Istat in year 2000, and to General Census of industry and services conducted in 2001 (also by Istat).

The main aspects of the surveys are: the number of institutions, their juridical form, their organisational structure, their economic dimension, and the sectors of economic activity.

Characteristics of non-profit institutions(NPIs)

According to the System of National Accounts (SNA) non-profit institutions are “legal or social entities created for the purpose of producing goods and services whose status does not permit them to be a source of income, profit, or other financial gain for the units that establish, control or finance them”. In practice their productive activities are bound to generate either surpluses or deficits but any surpluses they happen to make cannot be appropriated by other institutional units.

The SNA classifies NPIs according to three criteria: the first one groups NPIs into “market” or “non-market”, the second one into “public” or “private”, and the third one into the various types of users.


Non-profit institutions engaged in market production: consist of those NPIs which charge fees determined by their costs of production and which are sufficiently high to have a significant influence on the demand for their services, but any surpluses such institutions make must be retained within those institutions as their status as “Non-profit institutions (NPIs)” prevents them from distributing them to others.

Non-profit institutions engaged in non market production: are NPIs that are incapable of providing financial gain to the units which control or manage them, and which must rely principally on funds other than receipts from sales to cover their costs of production or other activities. They breakdown into the following categories:

  1. Non-profit institutions controlled and mainly financed by government: are properly constituted legal entities which exist separately from government but which are financed mainly by government and over which government exercises control;
  2. Non-profit institutions serving households (NPISHs):consist of NPIs which are not financed and controlled by government and which provide goods or services to households free or at prices that are not economically significant.

The European system of accounts (ESA95) adopts a classification system very similar to the one adopted by the SNA (from which it actually derives). In ESA95 and in SNA non-profit institutions are classified according to the following institutional sectors:

  • Non-financial corporations sector
  • Financial corporations sector;
  • General government sector;
  • Households sector;
  • Non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) sector.

The questionnaire used in Istat surveys contained a set of questions aimed at collecting the information necessary to identify the non-profit nature of the institutional unit and at classifying it according to the key characteristics. The main data collected for this purpose referred to:

  1. Juridical form;
  2. Objective of the institutions (profit/non-profit);
  3. Type of production (market/non-market);
  4. Type of destination of the services provided;
  5. Sector of activity;
  6. Social dimensions (number of employees, voluntary workers, religious workers, etc. by gender) and economic dimensions.

The survey questionnaire also included other variables, which enabled to make further analyses. These were:

  1. Duration of the activity carried out during the reference year;
  2. Data of creation of the institution;
  3. Need to comply with regulations for non-profit institutions;
  4. Number of establishments;
  5. Belonging or not to groups of institutions;
  6. Control over other institutional units;
  7. Number of members;
  8. Level of participation of members to the decisions.


2. Foundations

During the 2006-2007 period Istat conducted the first survey on foundations active in Italy (the reference year was 2005). This survey is part of the programme for development of statistics on non-profit institutions.

The survey covered al foundations, i.e. those non-profit institutions that:

  • have their own source on income, which generally derives mainly (not exclusively) from capital;
  • are self-governed;
  • use their own financial resources for educational, cultural, religious or social purposes. They may either support third parties (people or associations) or organise and manage their  own activities.

The data were collected through postal questionnaire: 7,538 questionnaires were sent. Responses were received from 6.478 units, of which 4.053 resulted valid, 267 closed down, 247 with the activity suspended or not yet started, and 2.172 non-valid due to a variety of reasons.

The non-responding foundations (799) underwent a supplementary survey in order to verify whether they actually existed and whether they belonged to the field of observation. Of these, 667 resulted to be active as on 31 December 2005 (while 65 could not be found and 67 did not belong to the field of observation).

Hence the universe of foundations (excluding non-active and suspended ones) was set at 4,720 units.

The activities of foundations were classified according to the International Classification of Non-profit Organizations (ICNPO), which was developed by John Hopkins University of Baltimore and is used for the international comparisons regarding the non-profit sector.

Data aggiornamento: 
December, 2010