This paper reports the results of a telephone survey and a literature search undertaken to determine the nature and scope of recent applied empirical research studies related to nonprofit organization management and to suggest what the priority areas for such research should be In the Immediate future. The paper provided background material for the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at the University of San Francisco to use In setting Its research priorities.
Applied research was contrasted with basic or pure research and was operationally defined as research "the findings of which could be of Immediate use to managers and boards of nonprofit organizations In Improving their organizations' functioning and/or In solving practical problems." Thirty-three people with expertise In the field of nonprofit management research were surveyed by telephone to determine their priorities for this type of research and to seek sources for the literature search. Priorities suggested by these experts Included research on personnel management, strategic planning, computer use, financial management, program and performance evaluation, fund raising, volunteerism, boards of directors, linkage and collaboration, marketing, technical assistance provision, and management education.
The literature search surveyed business periodicals, social science periodicals, dissertations, and specialized publications In the fund raising and volunteer administration fields. Another source was Independent Sector's compilation of current research studies In the nonprofit field. Using the operational definition of applied research as a filter, these sources yielded a total of nine studies In volunteerism, five studies on boards of directors, three on personnel management, three on financial management, twenty-one on fund raising, six on evaluation, six on survival and change, two on strategic planning, two on for-profit ventures within nonprofits, two on purchase of service contracting, and one each on constituent Involvement, Information management, and executive competencies.
Using the data gathered through the telephone survey and the literature search, the following eight topics were suggested as research priorities for the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management at USF: financial management; personnel management; funding the sector (Including both fund raising and alternative funding sources); boards of directors; strategic planning; evaluation; technical assistance provision; education of managers. These priorities were seen to be of crucial Importance to managers and boards of nonprofit organizations. They also seemed especially appropriate for study by a university-based Institute with a graduate degree program In nonprofit organization management.
Most of the experts surveyed commented on the dearth of applied empirical research In the field. This was substantiated by the findings of the literature search. It was concluded that the Institute for Non profit Organization Management at USF would be adding greatly to the store of Information available to leaders of nonprofit organizations by sponsoring studies In the priority areas listed.
Brown, Kathleen M. (1986). Applied empirical research on nonprofit organization management: survey and recommendations. Working paper (University of San Francisco. Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management); no. 1. San Francisco, CA: Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management, College of Professional Studies, University of San Francisco.