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May 8, 2018; Inside Indiana Business

We often look at nonprofit sectors in the aggregate. For instance, a recent report from Johns Hopkins found that 11.9 percent of all US employees work for nonprofits. These national reports are useful, but sometimes it helps to bring the numbers down to a more local level. A recent report published by the Fort Wayne-based Alliance for Human Services does exactly that.

Located in northeastern Indiana, Fort Wayne is home to about 264,000 people and is the county seat of Allen County, population 372,000. About 80 percent of Allen County residents are white, 12 percent are Black, and most of the rest are Latinx. The median household income is a modest $49,574 and the poverty rate is 15 percent. This makes Allen County somewhat poorer than the US average; the median household income is higher at $59,039, and the poverty rate is lower at 12.7 percent. Still, while Allen County is whiter and poorer than the average US county, it provides a useful lens through which to examine the scale and scope of the nonprofit sector.

The report itself was the product of a local consultancy, True North NPO, and a local university, the University of St. Francis. It was co-funded by a private foundation, the Foellinger Foundation, and the local community foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne. The report looked solely at the human service nonprofits. While Allen County has 373 human service nonprofits, there are a total of 1,478 501c3 organizations countywide. Overall, Allen County has the state’s third largest concentration of nonprofits.

While mostly focusing on human service nonprofits, religious institutions such as churches are the largest sector in Allen County, 32.7 percent of all 501c3 organizations. In terms of revenue, hospitals are by far the largest, with $1.477 billion in revenue out of total County nonprofit revenue of $2.19 billion. Total nonprofit jobs in Allen County are 30,744, with human service nonprofits being about 36 percent of total nonprofit sector’s employment.

As Dan McGowan writes in Inside Indiana Business, “nonprofit human services organizations create a $722 million annual economic impact in Allen County.” The $722 million includes $417.5 million in direct impact; the remainder is indirect (such as income generated through money spent by the workers in the community at other businesses or money spent by other businesses that was financed by human service nonprofits’ purchases of goods and services).

The organizations also pay more than $380 million in annual wages locally and own over $550 million in assets. All told, there are 373 human service nonprofits in the county, that employ 11,174 people. While the human service wages are low, at $31,231, their wages are still higher than real estate, retail, and full-service restaurants. That said, the human services wages in Fort Wayne, as in many US cities, fall below the average wage, which in Allen County is $42,518.

Because total employment is just over 230,000, human service employment, at over 11,000 people, comes close to five percent of the workforce. In Allen County, only hospitals, which have 12,185 employees, employ more people.

The report also breaks down human services by sector. According to the report, 42 percent of revenue and 39.6 percent of employment are in individual and family services. Other large sectors are food and housing (19.5 percent of revenues, 14.6 percent of employment); nursing and community care facilities (10.5 percent of revenues, 13.1 percent of employment); and substance abuse and mental health (8.5 percent of revenues, seven percent of employment). Outpatient care was seven percent of revenues and 3.5 percent of employment, while child care was 2.5 percent of revenues and 2.7 percent of employment. The rest fall either under “other” or are in categories populated by less than two percent of the sector.

More broadly, the study, write the report authors, “is an effort to illustrate the multi-layered economic impact the human service sector has” including as an employer, a revenue generator, and a purchaser of local business goods and services. The report also aims “to raise the awareness” of the role that human service nonprofits play. By doing so, the Alliance hopes to increase its voice and thus better be able to advocate on its members’ behalf.—Steve Dubb