org capacity of NPO - ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY OF NONPROFIT SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES SHARON PAYNTER East Carolina University MARUEEN BERNER University

org capacity of NPO - ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY OF...

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ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY OF NONPROFIT SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES SHARON PAYNTER East Carolina University MARUEEN BERNER University of North Carolina Keywords: Organizational capacity, nonprofit, social safety net, food assistance ABSTRACT The U.S. social safety net is formed by governmental and nonprofit organizations, which are trying to respond to record levels of need. This is especially true for local level organizations, such as food pantries. The organizational capacity literature has not covered front- line, local, mostly volunteer and low resource organizations in the same depth as larger ones. This analysis is a consideration of whether grassroots nonprofit organizations have the ability to be a strong component of the social safety net. Based on the literature on organizational capacity, a model is developed to examine how service delivery at the local level is affected by organizational capacity. Surprisingly, we find few of the characteristics previously identified as important are statistically significant in this study. Even when so, the material effect is negligible. Current organizational capacity research may apply to larger nonprofits, but not to the tens of thousands of small community nonprofits, a significant limitation to the research to date. In 2007 more than five out of ten Americans (54 percent) believed that government should help the poor and needy even if the national debt increased, but by 2012 support for social programs dropped to 43 percent (Pew, 2012). Services designed to prevent most people from suffering lack of food, shelter, medical treatment, work, and other essentials make up the social safety net. It is
112 JHHSA SUMMER 2014 under an unprecedented strain. Government, with record debt and deficits at all levels, is considering how to reduce social programs rather than expand governmental capacity to meet demand (Applebaum & Gebeloff, 2012). As a result, nonprofit organizations provide expanded safety net services to fill gaps. In an example of particular note for this study, 25 percent of Americans participate get nutritional aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP which accounts for two-thirds of the current U.S. Department of Agriculture budget (ERS, 2012). Even so, in 2011 more than 50 million households experienced food insecurity, defined as not having access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life (ERS, 2012). To ameliorate the impact of food insecurity an expansive network of private and public food assistance programs work together in communities. In turn grassroots nonprofits have experienced increased service demands even though these organizations may lack the necessary resources or capacity to deliver requested services. Organizational capacity for social service delivery through both governmental and nonprofit agencies is an important subject in the public administration literature (e.g., Andrews and Boyne, 2010; Fredericksen & London, 2000; Alexander, Brudney, & Yang, 2010; Lecy & Van Slyke, 2012). Practitioners and researchers alike have

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