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Nonprofits stabilize Indiana’s regional economies and employ thousands with well-paying jobs

Reports covering regions across Indiana provide nearly two decades of data on nonprofits’ impact on Hoosier communities

For Immediate Release Mar 11, 2021

EDITOR’S NOTE: This release was updated on June 15, 2021, to add reports from economic growth regions throughout the state.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A collection of new reports detailing the economic impact of nonprofits of economic growth regions across Indiana highlight the significant influence the organizations have, according to research from the Indiana Nonprofits Project, a collaborative effort between the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The reports highlight the significant economic impact that nonprofit establishments have in providing relatively well-paying jobs to tens of thousands of workers in each region:

  • Northwest Indiana, or Economic Growth Region 1, including Gary.
  • North Central Indiana, or EGR 2, including South Bend.
  • Northeast Indiana, or EGR 3, including Fort Wayne.
  • Northwest Central Indiana, or EGR 4, including Lafayette and Kokomo.
  • Central Indiana, or EGR 5, including Indianapolis.
  • East Central Indiana, or EGR 6, including Muncie and Richmond.
  • West Central Indiana, or EGR 7, including Terre Haute.
  • South Central Indiana, or EGR 8, including Bloomington.
  • Southeast Central Indiana, or EGR 9, including Columbus and Madison.
  • Southeast Indiana, or EGR 10, including a portion of the Louisville metro area.
  • Southwest Indiana, or EGR 11, including Evansville.

The results show the major effect that nonprofits have throughout the state. In Indianapolis, total nonprofit jobs in the region exceeded employment in all major for-profit industries in the region, including manufacturing, and surpassing retail trade jobs in 2018, according to the study results.

Nonprofit employment trailed only manufacturing jobs in Fort Wayne, accounting for a payroll of $1.7 billion in and around the city. And in Evansville, researchers found that nonprofit employment and payrolls, adjusted for inflation, have outpaced both the for-profit and government sectors.

These are just a handful of highlights from the series of reports, which, taken as a whole, provide a clear view of the role nonprofits play in Indiana.

The wages earned by nonprofit employees benefit the regional economies when those workers buy goods and services from local businesses. Nonprofit workers also contribute to state and local government finances when they pay state income taxes, state and local sales taxes, and local property taxes. The reports are based on Quarterly Covered Employment and Wage data submitted by nearly all Indiana employers.

“Since 2000, each of these regions have faced major economic challenges as jobs in manufacturing declined significantly from 2000 to 2010, with limited recovery in the following nine years,” said Kirsten Grønbjerg, director of the Indiana Nonprofits Project. “The Great Recession (2007-08) created losses also in other industries. By comparison, over the 2000-2019 period, nonprofit employment and payroll grew in almost all regions, and often at faster rates than corresponding rates in the for-profit or government sectors. Clearly, the nonprofit sector played a stabilizing role in the economy of each region.”

Nonprofit workers in each region play a vital role by providing community residents with key services in health care, social assistance, education, arts, culture and recreation, and more. In each of the regions, most nonprofit employees work in health care, with smaller proportions working in social assistance, education and membership associations.

The size of nonprofit establishments and average nonprofit annual wages vary considerably across these industries, though they are highest in health care and lowest in arts, entertainment and recreation. More detailed analysis shows that nonprofit establishments generally employ more workers on average than for-profit establishments in the major nonprofit industries and pay higher average annual wages in those industries.

Selected highlights from the regional reports

About Indiana Nonprofits Project

The Indiana Nonprofits Project is a collaborative project designed to provide solid, baseline information about the Indiana nonprofit sector in order to help community leaders develop effective and collaborative solutions to community needs and to inform public policy decisions. The full reports are available on the Indiana Nonprofits Project website. They are co-authored by the director of the project, Kirsten Grønbjerg, professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington, and professor of philanthropic studies at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI; and research assistant and IU undergraduate student Anjali Bhatt.

About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy – voluntary action for the public good – through its academic, research and international programs, and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.

About the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs

The O’Neill School is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2021 “Best Graduate Public Affairs Programs” by U.S. News & World Report, the O’Neill School ranks first in the country. Four of its specialty programs are ranked in the top five, including nonprofit management, ranked first.

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