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Organizational Capacity of Nonprofit Social Service Agencies

Author: SHARON PAYNTER and MAUREEN BERNER
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 37 No. 1

The U.S. social safety net is formed by governmental and nonprofit organizations, which are trying to respond to record levels of need. This is especially true for local level organizations, such as food pantries. The organizational capacity literature has not covered front- line, local, mostly volunteer and low resource organizations in the same depth as larger ones. This analysis is a consideration of whether grassroots nonprofit organizations have the ability to be a strong component of the social safety net. Based on the literature on organizational capacity, a model is developed to examine how service delivery at the local level is affected by organizational capacity. Surprisingly, we find few of the characteristics previously identified as important are statistically significant in this study. Even when so, the material effect is negligible. Current organizational capacity research may apply to larger nonprofits, but not to the tens of thousands of small community nonprofits, a significant limitation to the research to date.

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