SAN FRANCISCO -- Many of the nearly 1.6 million nonprofits and charities in the country are in need of advisory services. With assets growing at 8.5%, this group represents a healthy market for advisors looking to grow their client base, according to Gary Price, managing principal at Fund Evaluation Group.

“There is a great opportunity set,” Price said at the Schwab Impact Conference in San Francisco. Fund Evaluation Group, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, manages $33 billion for a client base composed largely of endowments and foundations.

Nationwide, nonprofits reported assets of $4.3 trillion as of 2009, according to data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Smaller nonprofits with assets of less than $10 million each account for a total $488 billion in assets. This is the likely target market for many advisory firms, Price suggested. The trend in recent years has been for nonprofits to seek help from outside advisors, according to Price and other panel speakers.

“Because of the dynamics of these organizations and the limited staff there is a growing interest to outsourcing those decisions,” according to Price. “That is certainly an evolution in the industry.”

Charitable giving accounts for a good part of the annual 8.5% growth rate.

“That is a key part of the opportunity, to look at a client base that is growing as well as institutions that are often structured to last so that can be a very long term relationship for you,” Price said.

One notable feature of endowment work is that the advisor ultimately manages money for clients he or she will never meet – the future generations entitled to the fruits of today’s investments.

To develop a specialty in this area, Price urged audience members to donate their time to local causes.

“I would encourage you to find a way to volunteer for the sole purpose to just trying to help your community – and to help yourself at the same time,” he said. “This is a business where referrals matter. If you are doing a great job serving on a committee, you will meet many other leaders in the community…. You can leverage that into opportunities.”