Between 2005 and 2009, thirteen nonprofits secured more than $3.1 billion in benefits for people living in poverty, people with disabilities, and other underserved populations in Pennsylvania, a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy finds.
The report, Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing, and Community Engagement in Pennsylvania (64 pages, PDF), examined the policy engagement efforts of thirteen Pennsylvania nonprofits and found quantifiable benefits such as $1 billion in additional wages for low-wage workers, $827 million in new state funding for public schools, and more than $57 million to help create and maintain affordable housing in Philadelphia. Pennsylvanians also benefitted from non-monetized impacts, including protection for clean water in rural communities and increased educational opportunities for students with cognitive disabilities. Foundations, both within and beyond Pennsylvania, contributed the bulk of the $26.1 million spent by the nonprofits in the study.
According to the report, for every dollar invested in advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement opportunities, there was a $122 return in benefits to local communities. Despite the effectiveness of those efforts, however, NCRP determined that Pennsylvania's nonprofit infrastructure is in jeopardy, with many groups struggling to meet community needs with fewer resources. The report offers several recommendations for grantmakers looking to boost their impact in a tough economy, including providing multiyear grants and additional operating support and increasing the percentage of grant dollars devoted to advocacy, organizing, and civic engagement activities in and for marginalized communities.
"This report shows the supreme value that these organizations bring to communities in Pennsylvania," said NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman. "The nonprofits often work with shoestring budgets to help and give voice to those people who are overlooked by the system."