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The State of Nonprofit America

The State of Nonprofit America

Lester M. Salamon Editor
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 2
Pages: 708
  • Book Info
    The State of Nonprofit America
    Book Description:

    Today, America's nonprofit organizations seem caught in a force field, buffeted by four impulses -voluntarism, professionalism, civic activism, and commercialism. Too little attention, however, has been paid to the significant tensions among these impulses. Understanding this force field and the factors shaping its dynamics thus becomes central to understanding the future of particular organizations and of the nonprofit sector as a whole.

    In this second edition of an immensely successful volume, Lester Salamon and his colleagues offer an overview of the current state of America's nonprofit sector, examining the forces that are shaping its future and identifying the changes that might be needed.The State of Nonprofit Americahas been completely revised and updated to reflect changing political realities and the punishing economic climate currently battering the nonprofit sector, which faces significant financial challenges during a time when its services are needed more than ever. The result is a comprehensive analysis of a set of institutions that Alexis de Tocqueville recognized to be "more deserving of our attention" than any other part of the American experiment.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2436-0
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Lester M. Salamon
  4. Part I: Overview

    • 1 The Resilient Sector: The Future of Nonprofit America
      (pp. 3-86)

      A struggle is under way at the present time for the “soul” of America’s nonprofit sector, that vast collection of private, tax-exempt hospitals, higher-education institutions, day care centers, nursing homes, symphonies, social service agencies, environmental organizations, civil rights organizations, and dozens of others that make up this important, but poorly understood, component of American life.

      This is not a wholly new struggle, to be sure. From earliest times nonprofits have been what sociologists refer to as “dual identity,” or even “conflicting multiple identity,” organizations.¹ They are not-for-profit organizations required to operate in a profit-oriented market economy. They draw heavily on...

  5. Part II: Major Fields

    • 2 Health Care
      (pp. 89-136)

      The American health care system is characterized by paradox. At its best it offers technological care at a level that is unmatched in the world, yet the United States ranks far down the list of countries in basic measures of population health such as infant mortality and life expectancy. Hundreds of state laws require health insurers to provide coverage for particular types of services (for example, fertility treatment) or types of providers (for example, chiropractors), yet some 46.3 million Americans had no health insurance in 2008 and tens of millions will remain uninsured even after the implementation of “comprehensive” federal...

    • 3 Education and Training
      (pp. 137-191)

      Furnishing the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enable citizens to make meaningful contributions to the workforce and society, educational organizations are among the foremost social institutions in the United States. In comparison with other industrialized countries, one of the most distinctive characteristics of America’s constellation of schools, colleges, universities, and related organizations is its longtime inclusion of diverse institutional types—private nonprofit, public, and for-profit institutions.

      Though not as numerous or large as their public education counterparts, the country’s private, nonprofit education and training organizations still reach over 10 million students annually at the primary, secondary, and postsecondary levels and...

    • 4 Social Services
      (pp. 192-228)

      Nonprofit social service agencies are a central and vitally important part of America’s social policy agenda and service delivery system. The number of nonprofit social service agencies has risen rapidly since the late 1990s, reflecting many key trends in social policy. Welfare reform in 1996 sharply reduced the importance of cash assistance for the poor and concomitantly greatly boosted the importance of effective community-based social services to help poor and disadvantaged citizens.¹ The Bush administration aggressively pushed government funding of faith- and community-based agencies that provide social services as a strategy to resolve urgent social problems, and the Obama administration...

    • 5 Arts and Culture
      (pp. 229-265)

      The field of arts and culture involves aesthetic, heritage, and entertainment activities, products, and artifacts. It comprises a large, heterogeneous set of individuals and organizations engaged in creating, producing, and presenting arts activities, as well as distributing, preserving, and educating about cultural products. These individuals and organizations may be located in the commercial realm, the nonprofit sector, or the public sector. They may also be embedded in other public or private institutions such as local community centers, public or private universities, or religious institutions. The result is “a large, ubiquitous, economically, and socially significant aspect of American public life.”¹


    • 6 Housing and Community Development
      (pp. 266-293)

      Housing and community development is one field in which nonprofit involvement has exhibited some of its most extraordinary growth and creativity. Nonprofits active in this area started from virtually nowhere amid the civic activism of the 1960s and expanded rapidly in number beginning in the 1980s. They have now established themselves as important and increasingly professionalized producers of publicly assisted housing and as important contributors in other ways to improved living environments and economic opportunities in some of the nation’s most distressed communities. Moreover, they have done so while avoiding the reckless practices that landed so many for-profit lenders and...

    • 7 Environmental Organizations
      (pp. 294-328)

      The environmental movement in the United States traces its organizational roots to the turn of the twentieth century, and some of the membership organizations created during that period—especially the Sierra Club (1892) and the National Audubon Society (1905)—are still major players today. Other organizations, such as the Wilderness Society (1935) and National Wildlife Federation (1936), were established in subsequent decades, but the real explosion of growth that gave birth to the contemporary environmental movement occurred in tandem with other social movements of the 1960s. In the latter half of the 1960s and the first half of 1970s, important...

    • 8 International Assistance
      (pp. 329-361)

      In the provision of aid to foreign populations suffering the effects of war, natural disasters, or chronic poverty, private nonprofit organizations play a crucial operational and advocacy role. Commonly referred to in the international aid field as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), these entities not only undertake independent charitable activities but also serve as the main implementers of governments’ foreign assistance programs. Over the past four decades, NGOs have matured and professionalized, earning a reputation for speed, flexibility, deployment capacity, and programming innovation beyond the reach of most governmental actors. In addition, their grassroots orientation and their staffs’ firsthand knowledge of local...

    • 9 Religious Congregations
      (pp. 362-393)

      There are more than 300,000 religious congregations—churches, synagogues mosques and temples—in the United States. More than 60 percent of American adults have attended a service at a religious congregation within the past year, and about one-quarter attend services in any given week. Although their exact manner of legal incorporation varies among states and religious groups, congregations, like most other kinds of membership organizations reside almost wholly within the nonprofit sector, if by nonprofit sector we mean organizations that do not distribute surplus income to their boards, employees, or members. And while at times they engage in commercial activities,...

    • 10 Civic Participation and Advocacy
      (pp. 394-422)

      American democracy draws its strength and legitimacy from the participation of its citizens in the governance of the nation. Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and association ensure that citizens can participate in democratic governance. Participation can be direct, by voting and petitioning public officials, and indirect, through associations that advocate for individual, group, business, and public concerns. Nonprofit advocacy for and against public policies directed toward elected officials, government agencies, and the courts is a long-standing American tradition. It is a vital instrument of pluralism and a cornerstone of this country’s representative democracy.

      Nonprofits mediate civic participation by providing structures...

    • 11 Infrastructure Organizations
      (pp. 423-458)

      In addition to the nonprofit daycare centers, soup kitchens, hospitals, and universities with which most people are familiar, America’s nonprofit sector also includes a variety of infrastructure organizations (IOs) that support these other organizations by improving their effectiveness and representing them in the policymaking process. Like similar organizations that support the business and government sectors, IOs serving the nonprofit sector are numerous and diverse. They include organizations that support nonprofits in particular fields (for example, the American Hospital Association and League of American Orchestras) and organizations that serve the entire nonprofit sector or at least large portions of it (for...

    • 12 Foundations and Corporate Philanthropy
      (pp. 459-494)

      In January 2008, in a widely publicized speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, called for a new way of helping the world’s poor: “creative capitalism.” It would rely more extensively on economic incentives to address the problems of developing countries than on government or philanthropic aid. “Such a system would have a twin mission,” he argued, “making profits and also improving lives for those who don’t fully benefit from market forces. To make the system sustainable, we need to use profit incentives whenever we can.”¹ Government and philanthropy would still...

    • 13 Individual Giving and Volunteering
      (pp. 495-518)

      Americans give hundreds of billions of dollars each year to support a wide range of causes, and most of this money flows through nonprofits. In addition, individuals support nonprofit organizations by donating billions of hours of volunteer labor. Although these levels of giving are remarkable, for much of the nonprofit sector private philanthropy—giving and volunteering by individuals—is not a major source of income. In this chapter, we describe personal giving and volunteering, the forces that shape them, and their significance in the funding streams of nonprofit organizations in various parts of the nonprofit sector.

      Because it focuses on...

  6. Part III: Major Challenges

    • 14 Commercialization, Social Ventures, and For-Profit Competition
      (pp. 521-548)

      The end of the twentieth century witnessed a fundamental questioning of the traditional welfare state in Western industrial countries, the fall of communism in Central Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union, and the disappearance of authoritarian regimes in many developing countries. Underlying all of these events has been a profound disaffection with government, which has helped to create new opportunities and responsibilities for the private sector—both for-profit and nonprofit—to address societal problems and improve the welfare of citizens.

      No sooner did free market capitalism claim center stage in this unfolding drama, however, than it began...

    • 15 Devolution, Marketization, and the Changing Shape of Government-Nonprofit Relations
      (pp. 549-586)

      Relations between the nonprofit sector and government—always complex, multifaceted, and in flux—have undergone significant changes in the United States over the last several decades. In the process, the implicit partnership that characterized these relations during much of American history, and that was fundamentally expanded during the 1960s and 1970s, has been substantially redefined. In the more than three decades since 1980, America’s nonprofit sector has grown massively, but it has also had to contend with a withering series of challenges in its dealings with government: retrenchment and marketization of government funding, expansion of the types of organizations eligible...

    • 16 Accountability in the Nonprofit Sector
      (pp. 587-615)

      At the time of this writing, the spotlight of media scrutiny was not flattering to several nonprofit organizations in this author’s home city. Headlines in local newspapers blared out various misdeeds and lackluster performance by nonprofit organizations including embezzlement by the executive director of the funds of a small organization that provides household goods and toys to needy families, spending on lavish entertainment and executive perks by a large nonprofit college loan organization, the inappropriate awarding of a college degree by a prestigious private university, and debates about what constitutes adequate performance by a nonprofit health care giant.¹ In addition,...

    • 17 Demographic and Technological Imperatives
      (pp. 616-638)

      Sociologists have observed that societal development consists of a cycle of technological development followed by an era of adjustments and re-creation of a new normal as a result of the technology boom. The previous century is a good example. A person magically transported forward in time from 1900 to 1950 would have gone from the world of the horse-drawn buggy to rocket ships blasting into space; from the telegraph to the television; from old-fashioned artillery and horses to nuclear warheads. The amazing technological advances in a fifty-year period of time boggle the mind. Similarly, many baby boomers born before or...

    • 18 Nonprofit Workforce Dynamics
      (pp. 639-656)

      Organizations are only as good as their members. The ability of the nonprofit sector to accomplish the critical work in which it is involved—serving children, resolving social inequities, working to heal the environment, promoting the arts, and the other myriad issues that are the province of the sector—may be most dependent on the ability of nonprofit organizations to continue to attract the right talent. As Jim Collins makes clear, getting the right people on the bus may be the most important first step in achieving organizational greatness.¹

      The frequently mentioned demographic shift that our nation’s labor market has...

    • 19 For Whom and for What? Investigating the Role of Nonprofits as Providers to the Neediest
      (pp. 657-682)

      In the 1830s, the practice of forming voluntary associations to serve the multiple and diverse needs of the population struck Alexis de Tocqueville as distinctively American.¹ Subsequently, many observers would note the presumably unique role of charitable organizations in American society, ranging from pioneer communities, abolitionist associations, and settlement houses to today’s large-scale and vertically integrated hospitals, universities, and social-service agencies. Although the nature of charities has changed dramatically over time, it has generally been assumed that such organizations primarily serve the needs of the poor. Today’s nonprofit sector is no different than early mutual aid societies in the sense...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 683-684)
  8. Index
    (pp. 685-708)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 709-709)