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Geographic Distribution of Philadelphia Nonprofit Organizations

September 11, 2023

Philly Nonprofits By the Numbers is a monthly series published by the Gupta Governance Institute in its monthly newsletter. The series is aimed at providing stakeholders with insight into the Philadelphia nonprofit ecosystem. Philadelphia is home to around 2,300 nonprofit organizations (NPOs). These organizations perform important functions for maintaining the health of the city and its residents.

In the latest edition of Philly Nonprofits By the Numbers, we examine the organizations’ geographic distribution across twelve Philadelphia neighborhoods, noted in the map below.

Color-coded map of Philadelphia neighborhoods
Color-coded map of neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Center City is home to the largest share of Philadelphia’s NPOs. In 2018, 857 organizations were headquartered in Center City, amounting to roughly 38 percent of the city’s nonprofit sector. No other neighborhood claims more than 12 percent. When organization count is adjusted to account for population, the disproportionate magnitude of Center City’s concentration is exacerbated. Center City claims approximately 155 NPOs per 10,000 residents. No other neighborhood has more than 22.

We emphasize caution in interpreting differences between neighborhoods; outsized shares do not necessarily indicate an inequity in the availability of NPO support and services. Organizations may be headquartered in an area separate from the areas to which they offer programming. Some organizations may choose to place their headquarters in Center City to be near important partners or to afford their employees better commuting options and more amenities despite focusing their programming on another part of the city. Other organizations offer programming on a national or global scale. These organizations, often much larger than those offering strictly local services, benefit from being headquartered in the business district.

Pie chart showing nonprofit organization distribution by Philadelphia neighborhood
Distribution of nonprofit organizations by neighborhood in Philadelphia

West Philadelphia is home to the next largest share of the city’s nonprofit sector. However, when adjusted for population, Lower North Philadelphia and Germantown/Chestnut Hill both have more NPOs per capita than West Philadelphia. Similarly, Near Northeast Philadelphia, the neighborhood with the most residents, ranks seventh in NPOs, but falls to eleventh when the neighborhoods are ranked on a per capita basis. Near Northeast Philadelphia has more NPOs per capita than only Olney/Oak Lane, the second most populated neighborhood. Roxborough/Manayunk is both the least populated neighborhood and the neighborhood with the least nonprofit organizations.

Pie chart showing nonprofit organization count by Philadelphia neighborhood per 10,000 residents
Number of nonprofit organizations in each Philadelphia neighborhood per 10,000 residents

The two most-populated neighborhoods in Philadelphia having the two lowest rates of NPOs per capita may be evidence of an insufficient amount of support or resources for residents in certain parts of the city. However, share of nonprofit organizations should not be expected to map exactly to the share of the population. Zoning laws, available real estate, and proximity to important partners are a few reasons why neighborhoods may have a share of the city’s NPOs that is not correlated with the neighborhood’s share of the population. Center City’s outsized share of NPOs despite its status as the second-least populated neighborhood is a good example of such a discrepancy. Further investigation on this topic is needed to better understand potential unmet needs of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

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