Collaboration and Professionalization: The Contours of Public Sector Funding for Nonprofit Organizations

The nonprofit sector is evolving rapidly as organizations expand their focus on efficiency, sustainability, and accountability. Public agencies are changing as well, embracing collaborative public management and fostering stewardship-based contracting approaches. But how have all these developments influenced government funding for nonprofit organizations? Which types of nonprofits procure public funds, and how do patterns change over time? Based on 200 interviews with leaders of nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, I argue that standard management strategies for achieving mission have become increasingly relevant for procuring government grants and contracts. Results indicate that professionalization and collaboration are consequential for receiving government support, net of prior funding, and collaboration also contributes to total support from government. Building from these results, I conclude by discussing the opportunities and challenges of public–nonprofit relations.