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Capacity for public service delivery: a cross-case analysis of ten small faith-related non-profit organisations

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Government-funded contracts are widely known to test the internal capacity of non-profit organisations (NPOs). Smaller faith-related NPOs are considered to be particularly lacking in the capacity needed to manage such contracts. Based on the uneven experiences of ten small faith-related non-profit organisations in a federal initiative in the United States, this article details four capacity areas critical to effective adaptation to the demands of government contracts: professional leadership, human resource management, strategy development and organisational alignment, and prior contract experience. Besides these internal organisational capacities, a key external factor found to predict effective adaptation is the capacity building given by support organisations that share the same faith orientation. However, two other factors explain the lack of pervasive adaptation, namely the financial strength of support organisations and funder perception of effective performance. The research contributes to neo-institutionalist arguments that attention to capacity and capacity builders may explain variations in adoption of practices that support public service delivery among small faith-related NPOs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 2014

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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