Nonprofit Research

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    Nonprofit Board Composition, Engagement, and Leadership in Central Indiana
    (Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 2024-01) School of Philanthropy, Indiana University Lilly Family
    Nonprofit organizations in central Indiana strengthen local communities and provide opportunities for engaged citizens to volunteer to serve on nonprofit boards. The extent to which demographic factors and board composition affect the board’s performance is a growing area of interest and research. Building on previous work about board engagement and diversity on a national level, this study examines nonprofit board composition, engagement, and leadership especially as they relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) among nonprofits in central Indiana. The findings in this study align with other research about board diversity and its impact on organizational performance. Results for central Indiana indicate that boards with a higher percentage of non-White members and women strengthen board governance. Moreover, organizations that have embraced cultural diversity across several measures are more likely to have more engaged board members. Yet, for many nonprofits there seems to be a disconnect between attitudes about diversity and action.
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    Mapping Nonprofit Spending on Climate Change
    (Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 2023-09) Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University
    "Mapping Nonprofit Spending on Climate Change" provides monetary estimates of the allocation of funding spent on work to address climate change at US nonprofit organizations working wholly or partly on the environment and climate change. In addition to the estimate for total climate spending by relevant US nonprofit organizations, the report also includes estimates of spending across both mitigation and adaptation efforts, and with breakdowns in three different areas: by geography, tactics, and sectors. The report also highlights several gaps, needs, and opportunities shared by respondent organizations that would help nonprofit organizations in the climate sector better address climate change. This study focused on organizations working to address climate change directly, making it the first of its kind.
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    Nonprofits and Donor-Advised Funds: Perceptions and Potential Impacts
    (2020-10-07) Osili, Una; Zarins, Sasha; Bergdoll, Jon; Buller, Melissa; Pruitt, Anna
    Donor-advised funds (DAFs) foster a unique partnership among nonprofits, donors, and DAF sponsoring organizations to achieve philanthropic goals. DAFs are also one of the fastest growing charitable vehicles and most talked about topics in the field of philanthropy. It is essential to understand donors’ and nonprofit organizations’ perceptions of DAFs. Perceptions not only affect how and when DAFs are used, but they impact policymakers’ decisions about rules and regulations, thereby influencing the long-term efficacy of DAFs as a philanthropic vehicle.
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    The Impact of Diversity: Understanding How Nonprofit Board Diversity Affects Philanthropy, Leadership, and Board Engagement
    (2018-02-20) Osili, Una; Zarins, Sasha; Bergdoll, Jonathan; Kou, Xionan; Grossnickle, Ted; Schipp, Dan; Canada, Andy; Ardillo, Tim; Ernst, Lee; Knutson, Juli; Coleman, Abigail; Walker, Vernetta
    Diversity on nonprofit boards in the United States has been widely studied. A great deal of research has focused on this area, exploring topics such as the level of diversity, the motivations for increased diversity, and the benefits diversity seems to deliver. Despite such research, little is known about how increasing the diversity on nonprofit boards affects board engagement and impact. This study addresses this gap by answering two questions: "Which organizational attributes correlate with board diversity?" and "How is board diversity related to organizational action?"
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    Understanding Management and General Expenses in Nonprofits
    (2001) Pollak, Thomas; Rooney, Patrick; Hager, Mark
    There has been growing coverage by the press and the accounting profession about how nonprofits report their management and general costs. There has also been growing attention by some donors, perhaps made most famously by claims by some donors that nothing should go to administration. While this area of nonprofit management has caught the attention of the public, it has largely escaped the research lens of scholars. This paper is a first step to understanding and explaining what management and general costs look like in the nonprofit sector and whether or not various institutional characteristics such as mission, size, age, sources of revenues, and/or accounting practices can help explain some of the variation in management and general expenses. We find that these institutional characteristics do matter quite a bit in explaining differences in management and general costs in nonprofits.
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    Response Rates for Mail Surveys of Nonprofit Organizations: A Review and Empirical Test
    (2003-06) Hager, Mark; Wilson, Sarah; Pollak, Thomas; Rooney, Patrick
    The failure of a substantial portion of mail survey recipients to respond to invitations to participate in research projects raises issues of nonresponse error. Because this error is difficult to quantify, survey researchers seek high rates of return to signal legitimacy and reduce questions regarding nonresponse bias. Research on survey method indicates that the design of the survey research process has a measurable influence on the rate of survey returns. This article focuses on three aspects of research design that are expected to influence mail survey returns in surveys of nonprofit organizations: questionnaire complexity, use of Federal Express versus standard mail, and the use of monetary incentives. Using an experimental design, the research concludes that questionnaire complexity and the use of monetary incentives generate no difference in returns, whereas the use of Federal Express to deliver the survey to nonprofit executives has a measurable positive effect.
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    Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies Education
    (2006-09) Burlingame, Dwight F.
    “We need to reject the naïve imposition of the ‘language of business’ on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness.” (Collins, 2005, p. 2). This quote from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, recognizes that the push by many for nonprofits to become more business like is wrong headed. Instead, the critical difference is what makes a nonprofit great--or for that matter, a business great. In contrast to a business which uses financial returns as a measure of performance, nonprofits assess success relative to mission, and further, relative to the resources that they have to apply toward accomplishment of mission.
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    Help Your Nonprofit Clients Improve Their Accounting for Capital and In-Kind Donations
    (2004) Wing, Kennard; Gordon, Teresa; Hager, Mark; Pollak, Tom; Rooney, Patrick
    Many nonprofit organizations, especially smaller ones, lack skilled financial professionals either on staff or on the board. Auditors and other external CPAs are in an excellent position to help these clients present their financial results in ways that will avoid misunderstanding and confusion on the part of financial statement users both inside and outside the client organization. Two areas that have created special problems for nonprofits are accounting for large capital donations and for in-kind donations. We’ll look at the problems first; then show you accounting solutions you can bring to your clients.
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    Financial Literacy and Knowledge in the Nonprofit Sector
    (2012-02) IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
    Financial literacy and knowledge play a vital role in the creation and sustainability of a vibrant nonprofit sector, particularly in the current economic environment. For the past two decades, a growing wealth of economic and financial data has become available to help inform effective decision-making within the nonprofit sector. It has become increasingly important for nonprofit organizations to have the knowledge and skills that are necessary to apply and use this data for decision-making and benchmarking. However, little is known about the current state of financial literacy and knowledge at nonprofit organizations. One major purpose of this study is to fill this gap by investigating nonprofit organizations’ financial literacy and knowledge and exploring how such knowledge informs their practices. The 2011 Financial Literacy and Knowledge in the Nonprofit Sector report offers new insights on the resources nonprofit organizations use to manage their finances, identifies best practices in financial decision-making, and provides suggestions for improving financial planning in the long term. Conducted by the Center on Philanthropy, in collaboration with The Moody’s Foundation, this study seeks to better understand nonprofit organizations’ financial literacy and knowledge as well as the financial practices these organizations currently adopt. A composite definition of financial literacy is: The knowledge and skills of basic economic and financial concepts, as well as the ability to apply this knowledge in order to manage financial resources effectively.
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    The Nonprofit Research Collaborative: Summer/Early Fall 2011
    (2011-09) Association of Fundraising Professionals; Blackbaud; IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; Foundation Center; Giving USA Foundation; Guidestar; National Center for Charitable Statistics