Puget Sound – Seattle

The Puget Sound area is a vibrant, progressive region of Washington state. Anchored by its largest city, Seattle, the state capitol, Olympia, and Tacoma, approximately 4 million people live in the nine counties that comprise the area. The local economy is recognized for several key industries, including aerospace, technology, and retail. Major local companies include Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, Costco, Alaska Airlines, and Nordstrom. Seattle is ranked second and Tacoma tenth in Forbes annual list of America’s fastest-growing cities. Seattle is among the most highly educated cities in the nation, with 56 percent of residents having at least an undergraduate degree, and is home to the University of Washington (UW), which has more than 30k enrolled undergraduates and 54k students overall. The university is the largest public sector employer in King County (and second only to Amazon overall).Besides the strong presence of the public sector and a robust business sector, the Puget Sound region is home to an active nonprofit sector. Approximately 30k federally-registered nonprofits operate in the state of Washington, and the large majority are located in the Puget Sound region. Major philanthropic institutions in the area include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Seattle Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and the Marguerite Case Foundation. As with other cities experiencing rapid growth and development, the region faces many challenges, most notably with homelessness. Seattle has the third largest homeless population in the United States, following only Los Angeles and New York City. Our study seeks to better understand the diverse roles that public charities play in the region and the challenges they face in achieving their missions. The research team is particularly interested in developing novel insights into the connections that nonprofits make – to one another, to organizations in other sectors, and to citizens – and how those relationships matter for pursuing social change, providing effective services, and fostering a sense of community in the region.

The interactive map below shows the representative sample of nonprofits in the Puget Sound Seattle region. Nonprofit organization density by postal code is marked by the red color. The color bar at the top of the map indicates the distribution of organizations by subject area.


  • Number of residents: 3.7 million
  • Race: 65% White, 13% Asian, 10% Hispanic, 6% Black
  • Median household income: $77,000
  • Poverty rate: 10%

Nonprofit Sector


  • Area: 4,872 sq. mi (15,209 sq. km)
  • Population density: 659/sq. mi (250/sq. km)
  • Founded: 1869