Our Interdisciplinary Team Applies a Uniform Research Framework

Creating a representative sample through administrative records 

We draw random samples from tax, or other administrative, records of the nonprofit sector in each city to represent the full diversity of organizations in the sector that span issue area, age of founding, size of staff and budget. The findings of this research are thus generalizable and verifiable, and can help transfer productive ideas by informing both practitioners and funders.

Launching a master survey

We administer a questionnaire across all cities with common modules on leadership, staffing, decision making, collaboration, advocacy, funding, impact, performance, digital practices, and community integration. Each research team then tailors their questionnaire to distinctive aspects of each city to capture the local features of their communities. We follow up with in-depth interviews with executive directors. 


Engaging with nonprofit leadership

Our research teams stay connected with local leadership.  We sit down with nonprofit leaders to walk through our questionnaire, see the work that is being done, follow-up on unexpected findings and share what we have been learning. Getting to know the people who are creating change in their communities is a priority for our team and helps us build a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s work.


Exploring online presence

Websites and social media offer rich information about organizations. Online presence allows organizations to entertain, persuade, express a point of view and provide a means for collective action, raise funds, and offer services. Our researchers examine the forms and narratives of social media as a new perspective in studying organizational behavior.


Cross-city comparative work of this scale and structure requires extensive collaboration with the global research team. Researchers from Stanford, the University of Washington, the University of California at Berkeley, California State East Bay, the University of Michigan, the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology – Sydney, Emlyon, INSEAD, and Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien are collaborating over the next three years to complete this project.