Winter 2014 – Digital Issue

Winter 2014 – Digital Issue

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Births & Deaths in the Nonprofit Sector

Winter 2014: Volume 21, Issue 4


  • Welcome

  • Vital Records: Births and Deaths in the Nonprofit Sector
    There is no exactitude in the relationship between the number of registered nonprofits and the number of nonprofits that actually exist, but these are the figures that inform analysis of the parameters of the sector. In this article, Chuck McLean, vice president of research at GuideStar, outlines the numbers and some of the issues and questions that they raise. by Chuck McLean

  • The Nascent Nonprofit Organization—What Happens Before a Nonprofit Is Born?
    It is difficult to identify exactly when an organization has come into existence. A general rule is that a nonprofit is born the moment it has been officially registered by the IRS, but this article argues that “the emergence of a new nonprofit organization is better understood as a process rather than a discrete event or state. Specifically, reducing nonprofit birth to the act of registration is to simplify and ignore critical aspects of the organizing process.” by Fredrik O. Andersson

  • The Challenges of New Nonprofits
    As organizational theorists have described it, an organization’s risk of dying is highest at the point of its founding and decreases with age. So it is essential for new nonprofits to understand the challenges that they face if they are to survive—and, as the author writes, “more importantly, have significant impact.” This article reviews theories on the life cycle–related threats and opportunities that await the young nonprofit. by Wolfgang Bielefeld

  • A Field of Toddlers: Nonprofit News Sites
    There are historic moments when a whole new field of nonprofits appears in response to social realities—and this kind of phenomenon poses both challenges and opportunities. The challenges are developmental, as the organizations establish themselves, work out their leadership mix and decision-making processes, establish relationships, and set up systems; a primary opportunity is for a well-placed infrastructure to support the whole field through these challenges. This article about new nonprofit journalism sites is based on interviews with the Knight Foundation and the Investigative News Network.

  • Deaths, Near Deaths, and Reincarnations
    Along the trajectory of an organization’s death are signs of decline—and even of antecedents of decline—that can be pulled out and used as a kind of morbidity and mortality analysis in aid of interpreting what went wrong. To that end, this special collection presents mini–case studies on the death, near death, or reincarnation of five organizations: Hull House; the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education; the Otto Schiff Housing Association; the International Museum of Women; and ACORN. The case studies were prepared by students at the University of Pennsylvania as part of their work for the graduate course “The Nonprofit Sector: Concepts and Theories,” taught by Chao Guo, associate professor of nonprofit management in the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. They include “event structures”—maps illustrating the series of events leading to each organization’s demise as interpreted by the students, with guidance by Mark A. Hager, associate professor of philanthropic studies in the School of Community Resources and Development at Arizona State University.

  • 10 Ways to Kill Your Nonprofit
    This article presents the authors’ top picks for how best to destroy your organization. Of course, if you want your nonprofit to thrive, you should avoid the pitfalls described in these pages. But, the authors warn, this won’t be easy to do, as, “Killing a nonprofit takes less effort than making one really effective.” by Mark A. Hager and Elizabeth A. M. Searing