Philadelphia, the Democratic National Convention, and the Nonprofit Sector

On January 14, the Republican Party announced that its 2016 national convention will take place at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Democratic Party has narrowed its field down to three contenders, including Columbus, New York City, and Philadelphia.

The event is no small matter. Conventions during the 2012 election cycle – Tampa Bay for Republicans and Charlotte for Democrats – attracted tens of thousands of people to the two host cities, along with a flush of consumer spending.

Pundits and academics debate the economic benefits of hosting the convention. The National Journal cited one study in 2012 that claims that the financial gain is minimal. The reality most likely rests somewhere in between the wildly optimistic projections of city officials and the reductive conjecture of one study that trades causality for correlation; cities enjoy both an injection of spending as well as intangible rewards, including the the elevation of the city’s cultural brand.

Should the Democratic Party pick Philadelphia, the benefits would be manifold. The influx of civic-minded delegates – energized by the democratic process – would be drawn toward one of the highest concentrations of U.S. cultural treasures and symbols in the entire country. In turn, the city’s world-class cultural institutions and performing arts community would undoubtedly benefit from the uptick of visitors, especially convention delegates habituated to the giving culture inherent to political activity.

The list of Philadelphia’s historical offerings is extensive; the city boasts the Liberty Bell, the Constitution Center, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’ House, and the entirety of the Independence National Historical Park.

The arts are similarly well-represented. Philadelphia is third in the nation for per capita spending on the arts. From the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art to the unparalleled Barnes Foundation; the internationally renowned Philadelphia Orchestra to the ever-innovative Philly POPs; the options for arts and cultural performances are as abundant as the talent pool is deep.

In choosing Philadelphia, the Democratic Party would provide their delegates and other convention-related visitors with an unforgettable experience, and the city’s institutions would enjoy both short-term and longterm profits.

The immediate financial rewards, of course, would contribute further to a rebounding economy and a growing nonprofit sector. In the wake of the recession, nonprofits are recovering at a faster rate than the private sector. Philadelphia’s arts nonprofit community alone employs over 44,000 people, who would stand to gain from the inflow of ticket-buying delegates from across the county.

Additionally, the national stage would elevate Philadelphia’s status as a U.S. cultural center. In cultivating national interest, the convention would entice future visitors. The city’s institutions can further profit from the satisfied patronage of philanthropic delegates, potentially creating a new wellspring of fundraising prospects.

Philadelphia is the logical choice for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Nonprofits should look forward to sharing their mission and goals with U.S. citizens from every corner of the nation, and anticipate ways to educate, entertain, and grow during the convention weekend.

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