Taxonomy of religious and secular nonprofit organizations: Knowledge development and policy recommendations for neighborhood revitalization

Nisha Danielle-Stephanie Botchwey, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation is a taxonomy of the role religious and secular nonprofit organizations (NPOs) play in the revitalization of high-poverty neighborhoods. The research contributes to existing knowledge of inner-city revitalization, collaborative planning, organizational theory, and social capital. This study considers the historical policy changes and the resulting growth of the current devolutionary environment that gave rise to Charitable Choice legislation. The organizations emphasized in this study include nonsectarian community-based organizations (CBOs) and both congregations and faith-based organizations (FBOs). The Lower North Philadelphia study area is representative of high-poverty neighborhoods found in other cities and has a significant concentration of congregations, community development corporations, FBOs and other community groups. This work is based on empirical data that documents policy-makers' reliance on local community institutions for social service provision. Analysis includes qualitative and quantitative methods combined with spatial evaluation using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Findings indicate that, on average, the religious side of the nonprofit sector exhibits a strong presence in communities, contributing substantial amounts of social and physical service delivery. These congregations and FBOs serve equal numbers of people, with significantly smaller budgets. The findings also demonstrate higher densities in the community compared to the major thoroughfare where secular CBOs locate. Policy recommendations stemming from this research emphasize enhancing access to public resources through technical assistance and capacity building. Future study includes additional analysis of individual findings, and the replication of this research in other communities that share similar characteristics. This dissertation contributes to scholarship by further documenting such efforts and by comparing and contrasting the effectiveness of NPOs by type, policies, and practices.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Religion

Recommended Citation

Botchwey, Nisha Danielle-Stephanie, "Taxonomy of religious and secular nonprofit organizations: Knowledge development and policy recommendations for neighborhood revitalization" (2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3087373.