The Stanford Project on the Evolution of Nonprofits (SPEN) is a major research initiative of the Center for Social Innovation.
We developed a benchmark profile of the sector and documented how nonprofits are beset by capacity challenges and struggling to find new sources of funding.
Despite many difficulties, most nonprofits are professionalizing their management and governance, responding creatively to funding issues, developing and adopting increasingly sophisticated accountability practices, and engaging in a wide array of advocacy activities.
Throughout our analyses, the transformation of nonprofits has emerged as a central theme as many organizations are attempting to change funding models, introduce new programs, or build organizational capacity.
The Stanford Project on the Evolution of Nonprofits’ report, “Managing Through Challenges: A Profile of San Francisco Bay Area Nonprofits,” provides baseline information for decision making in the nonprofit field that will be useful for practitioners and stakeholders, including philanthropists, in the Bay Area and beyond.
Denise Gammal on All Things Considered on KQED-FM 88.5 (NPR)
The inherent tensions between the high resource costs of evaluation and the demands of service delivery are a challenge for nonprofits and foundations alike. Denise Gammal, managing director of the Stanford Project on the Evolution of Nonprofits presents results to foundation professionals. [Listen now]
SPEN seeks to advance scholarship regarding the management of nonprofits, exploring in particular how nonprofit leaders appropriate, adapt, or reject management ideas and practices as they create and shape social purpose institutions. We consider how these ideas circulate among nonprofits and how nonprofits acquire them from business or government. The research has deepened our understanding of organizational and philanthropic issues facing the social sector.
In order to better understand how nonprofits are managed, we utilized a multi-method approach in two complementary projects conducted from 2002 to 2005.
Our interview protocol covered a broad array of organizational topics, eliciting both quantitative data and discursive qualitative responses.
The protocol was tested and improved through more than 20 pilot interviews, with an emphasis on collecting data that is comparable across organizations.
Researchers used the protocol in extensive six to 120-minute interviews with the leaders of a randomly selected, representative sample of 200 operating charities in the San Francisco Bay Area:
For more information, download the full report
Research Faculty Director:
Professor Walter W. Powell
Stanford Project on the Evolution of Nonprofits
532 Ceras Building
Stanford, CA 94305-3084
Email: spen at gsb.stanford dot edu