The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook

The Handbook fills a unique space in the nonprofit literature, as the only sector-wide volume aimed at furthering research in the field. The nonprofit sector, including academic degree programs and individual research projects on nonprofits, has grown exponentially since the 1990s. There are now several handbooks related to nonprofit management, and several that provide an introduction to the nonprofit sector for those new to the field. The first edition, published in 1987, focused efforts on a newly emerging space referred to as the independent sector that explored how nonprofit organizations were becoming more professional. The second edition, published in 2006, explored the ways in which nonprofit organizations attempted to influence society, interact with governments and operate in an increasingly business-like manner. This volume is unique, however, in its focus on advancing cutting-edge empirical and theoretical developments in the field.

The volume aims to shape the future direction of research on nonprofits, rather than providing overviews of existing literature. This issue also comes at a time when nonprofits are increasingly intertwined across with both the public and business domains, opening up a broader conversation on civic action and social purpose. The world and the nonprofit sector have changed in fundamental ways since the last edition was published more than 10 years ago. The nonprofit sector has expanded further, and now overlaps a great deal more with both the public and private sector. Thus, it is time to revisit the state and direction of nonprofit research. The themed sections in the handbook will highlight the growing role of nonprofits in public policy, visit current debates over whether these entities are vehicles for supporting democracy or tools for special interests, examine the blurring boundaries between the for-profit, public, and non-profit sectors, and analyze the challenges encountered by efforts to measure impact and outcomes in the sector.