News and analysis
August 21, 2015

New Orleans Charities Grew Fast in Decade After Katrina

Adam Crochet, 28, left, and his girlfriend Boyanna Trayanova, 26, in front of their new home developed by the local branch of Habitat for Humanity.
Spencer Weiner, Los Angeles Times, Getty Images

A growth in revenue and contributions to New Orleans nonprofits helped support rebuilding efforts like "Musicians' Village," a Habitat for Humanity project to build 80 homes.

Revenue growth at nonprofits in New Orleans outpaced that of nonprofits statewide and across the United States from 2000 to 2012, according to an analysis conducted by the Urban Institute. The trend reflects a wave of public and private dollars directed to the area after Hurricane Katrina.

Nonprofits in New Orleans had a 131-percent increase in total revenue from 2000 to 2012. During the same period, revenue for nonprofits throughout Louisiana rose 80 percent. Nationwide, the increase was 55 percent.

The IRS has not yet released complete data for fiscal 2013, but a preliminary analysis shows that "financial growth is still apparent" for nonprofits in New Orleans based on available figures, said Brice McKeever, a research associate at the Urban Institute.

Nonprofits in New Orleans that had the biggest revenue gains from 2000 to 2012 were hospitals and primary-care facilities, along with education groups (excluding institutions of higher education).

The growth in total revenue was most pronounced between 2005 and 2010. Revenue increased nearly 79 percent in the five years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared through the gulf area, causing $150 billion in damages.

Few nonprofits in the region were left untouched. For example, a 2012 study by the Urban Institute that looked at health and human-services charities in metropolitan New Orleans found that 90 percent suffered damage to buildings and equipment, shortages of supplies, or reduced staffing levels. Two-thirds of the groups surveyed in that report said they were back to pre-Katrina operating levels.

Carol De Vita, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and one of the authors of the earlier report on health and human-service charities, said many groups found themselves with budget surpluses in the early years after the flooding of New Orleans. By 2010, some were operating at a loss, a reflection of the ebb and flow of dollars that support such groups, she said.

The Urban Institute’s new analysis shows that the growth in contributions to New Orleans groups also eclipsed state and national figures. The contributions include private donations, corporate support, and government grants but exclude fees for services or other revenue sources.

At the city level, contributions grew by 74 percent from 2000 to 2012. Statewide, the increase was 67 percent for the same period. Nationwide, contributions in 2012 were 53 percent higher than in 2000.

In 2012, there were 950 registered nonprofits in New Orleans. That’s almost 40-percent more than in 2000. Not included in the total were religious congregations and other groups that are not required to submit tax documents to the IRS. New groups proliferated most rapidly from 2005 to 2010, according to the data. Over the next two years, the number of organizations shrank.

Across Louisiana, the number of nonprofits increased by 51 percent from 2000 to 2012. For nonprofits in the United States as a whole, the growth was even greater, at nearly 54 percent.

For additional analysis of nonprofits in metropolitan New Orleans, read the Urban Institute blog post here.

Send an e-mail to Megan O’Neil.