Analysis of U.S. Trends in Nonprofits and Charitable Giving

IRS 990 Topic Modeling

Recently, we conducted an analysis of IRS 990 data (public information on nonprofits) and shared highlights with Fast Company. We've seen a great deal of interest in this topic, so we're sharing here interactive maps with additional data from the analysis. You can find the write-up we gave Fast Company here.

Every nonprofit is required to file a Form 990 to the IRS. 990s include information such as mission statements, program details and financial performance. This information is publicly available through the IRS website. We analyzed a machine-readable version of Form 990 data from more than 353,000 nonprofits across the U.S. We then applied a machine learning method called “topic modeling” to categorize mission statements into specific topics, each defined by a set of words. For example, a topic defined by "youth, sport, baseball, program, league" would be categorized as youth sports. We then assigned each nonprofit to one or more categories using the topic model and compared the financial characteristics of nonprofits by category and location.


What are the most common types of organizations by state?

Nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations (such as children, people with developmental disabilities and seniors needing long-term care), are the most common type of organization within a majority of the states. While these nonprofits serve a diverse set of communities, they are united in providing services to populations that might otherwise fall through the cracks. On the West Coast, the most common organizations promote youth character development. Organizations that promote economic development are the most common type of organization in ND, WI, MD, VA, and MI. In LA and IN, organizations dedicated to affordable housing are most common.

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Which organizations are the most well-funded by state?

While “vulnerable population” organizations are the most common, they are not the most well-funded. Nonprofits focused on healthcare are by far the biggest, both in terms of total revenue across the sector as well as average revenue per organization. The largest include not-for-profit health plans and universities with large medical centers. In most states, the most well-funded nonprofits are healthcare focused, but this is not true across the board. For example, in parts of the Midwest (MI, IL, MN, and AR) and parts of the Southwest (NV and NM), mutual assistance associations focused on benefits and insurance have the highest average revenue.

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Scarlett Swerdlow, Director of Applied Data Science

Ben Kirshner, Senior Applied Data Scientist

Henry Hinnefeld, Senior Applied Data Scientist

Cameron Clarke, Applied Data Scientist

Erika Eldrenkamp, Applied Data Scientist

Anna Berman, Applied Data Science Intern

Brenton Graham, Marketing Intern