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This State Has the Most Nonprofits Per Person

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Mar 21, 2016 11:49:00 AM

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Today's blog post just might win a nonprofit trivia contest for you one day...

Every year, a friend of mine from college organizes a March Madness bracket contest that’s a bit...unusual.

Rather than picking teams based on who you think will actually win the game, you have to pick a completely arbitrary, non-basketball related factor, then apply it to each match-up.

The nerdier and more complex, the better.

The end result won’t win any serious office bracket competition, but it’s pretty entertaining to see what everyone comes up with.

While pondering what I wanted to do for my entry this year, I got to thinking what interesting nonprofit stats I could crunch that might be of interest to you, our wonderful blog reading audience.

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of nonprofit data sets out there to play with.

So I downloaded the IRS’s entire list of tax-exempt charities in the United States. All 900,000+ of them.

Scrolling through the list, it was clear that bigger states had more registered nonprofits (duh), but it got me wondering:

Which state has the most tax-exempt organizations per person?

So with some spreadsheet magic, I counted up each state’s total number of organizations, threw that into another spreadsheet containing population data for each state, then divided the population by number of charities in that state to see how many people per nonprofit organization each state had.

So which state has the most nonprofits per person? And who has the least?

Which State Has the Most Nonprofits Per Person?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the District of Columbia had the most nonprofits per capita. Given the high concentration of national offices located in D.C. (plus the relatively small population), D.C. has far and away the most organizations with a nonprofit for every 86 inhabitants.

But that’s hardly fair, right? D.C. isn’t really a state, plus it has an unusually high number of nonprofit offices within its borders, given its status as the nation’s capital.

So who’s next up as the nation’s most charity-crazy state?

That would be none other than Vermont!

With a nonprofit for every 160 people, Vermont has double the number of charities per capita as the national average (320).

Rounding out the top five after D.C. and Vermont are Montana, Delaware, and Rhode Island (a very strong representation from New England).

How about the other end of the spectrum?

The state with the fewest charities per person is Utah, with one tax-exempt charity for every 546 people. Nevada, Mississippi, Arizona, and South Carolina make up the rest of the bottom five.

Keep in mind however that this is just the number of organizations per capita, not how much the citizens of these states donate. It also has nothing to do with how large each organization is.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Using this data, I filled out my basketball bracket, using the rank of each team’s home state to pick winners.

Keeping with the fundraising theme, matchups from the same state were decided by which school had the larger endowment.

Here’s the final bracket


Like I said, with a Final Four of Buffalo, Holy Cross, Providence, and Syracuse, it’s not likely to win any serious bracket contest. But hopefully, with a little (okay, a lot) of luck, I can win this competition.

Let’s go Providence! Do it for the nonprofits!

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