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Sharing knowledge is important to us. Our grant making has generated a broad range of knowledge and given us new insights into the nonprofit sector that could prove valuable to other grantmakers, experts in the field, the media and the general public.

Beyond Charity
Quantifying Nonprofit Return on Investment

As part of its “East of the River Initiative,” the World Bank Group Community Outreach Program partnered with the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington to produce a ground-breaking report entitled BEYOND CHARITY: RECOGNIZING RETURN  ON  INVESTMENT, How the Nonprofit Community Impacts Greater Washington.

Released on November 26, BEYOND CHARITY reveals the many ways in which nonprofits raise the quality of life for all of us in Greater Washington and how they are the lifelines to our most vulnerable neighbors. Through nearly 100 examples, the report documents the powerful and far-reaching social and economic impacts of nonprofits. Programs ranging from early childcare to senior day care demonstrate that they are not only good for the people they serve, but clearly make economic sense

The project that led to this report began a year ago as the Bank and the Nonprofit Roundtable together sought to answer the question “What difference do nonprofits make in Greater Washington?” At the time, there were no reports that attempted to document and add up evidence of community-wide nonprofit return on investment. The only data that were available pertained only to the impact of a single organization or of a group of organizations on a single issue.

Having identified the need for a single report that compiled the impact of nonprofits in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the Nonprofit Roundtable began a yearlong process of asking leaders within the nonprofit sector how they recognized return on investment. To calculate return on investment, the leaders described the added value that results when people’s lives are improved or when negative outcomes are avoided. The ultimate goal was to quantify these outcomes and describe their overall value to society.

Consider the return on investment from two grantees of the East of the River Initiative:

According to a recent study from Cornell  University , the average lifetime cost of health care for one person infected by HIV is $618,900. Metro TeenAIDS (MTA), which has an annual budget of just over $1 million, has been focusing its efforts on the HIV needs ofyoung people in the DC area since 1988, including case management, mental health, youth leadership, outreach, and prevention education. With just over 50% of its budget used for prevention, MTA estimates that having prevented even two new HIV infections a year has saved the region millions of dollars – and prevented countless future infections, and even more importantly, kept two young people from contracting the HIV virus.

Urban Alliance Foundation, a comprehensive employment program for DC high school students, has helped more than 850 youth find employment. Ninety-six percent of its participants also finished high school, compared to less than 60% of DC public school students. And, while only 29% of DC public school students enroll in college, 88% of youth who finish the Urban Alliance program go to college.

State of DC Older Youth Databook (Executive Summary)*

This summary describes the conditions for older youth age 12 to 24 in the District of Columbia found in the research report, State of D.C. Older Youth Databook. The Urban Institute, in collaboration with the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) and their member organizations, developed the report to serve as a valuable resource for organizations and local government in planning, advocating, and evaluating programs designed to help youth make a successful transition to adulthood. This data book is part of the World Bank-funded East of the River Initiative

Data are organized around the following five topics, which mirror the Interagency Collaboration and Service Integration Commission’s (ICSIC) goals for children and youth in the District.

  • Demographics
  • Children and Young Adults Live in Healthy, Stable, and Supportive Families
  • Children and Young Adults Succeed in School
  • Children and Young Adults Are Healthy and Practice Healthy Behaviors
  • Children and Young Adults Are Engaged in Meaningful Activities


  • Approximately 38,600 teenagers age 12 to 17 live in the District and the majority of them were African American and living in Wards 7 and 8.
  • Approximately 62,200 young adults age 18 to 24 live in the District.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all young adults were either in college or had already graduated from college.

* This report is scheduled for release in May, 2009

Last updated: 2009-09-29

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