Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dennis R. Young

Second Advisor

James R. Alm

Third Advisor

Michael Rushton

Fourth Advisor

Bruce A. Seaman


The nonprofit sector is becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy both as an employer and service provider. Although most of the sector’s revenues are earned, the ability of the nonprofit sector to generate significant levels of unearned income in the form of grants and contributions reinforces the sector’s uniqueness. This dissertation uses the NCCS-Guidestar data to address questions pertaining to the determinants of nonprofits’ contributions and government grants. Each of the essays’ findings is discussed briefly below.

The first chapter examines the relationship between an organization’s finances and the level of government grants received. Because organizations choose to apply for government grants, a Heckman procedure is coupled with fixed effects to produce unbiased, within organization estimates. When controlling for the probability an organization receives grant funding, the average level of grants an organization receives generally increases with improvements in efficiency measures. In testing Brooks’ (2004) adjusted performance measure, the author finds that for many categories of nonprofit organizations, improvements in performance relative to community expectations increase grants for recipients, but better performance reduces the probability an organization receives any government grants.

The second essay examines the determinants of direct support to organizations in four of the major categories, namely Arts, Education, Health, and Human Services, using instrumental and panel techniques. Unlike government grants, changes in price do not affect organizations’ expected contributions. When significant, government grants generally crowd out private donations while the effects of program service revenue vary by category and specification.

The final essay examines the effects of nonprofit expenses and revenues on direct support for organizations in four small subcategories, Disaster Preparedness, International Aid, Environmental Conservation, and Performing Arts. The essay tests whether the impact of various revenue and expense variables on direct support changes around an unexpected event such as 9/11. Results suggest that the events of 9/11 had a greater moderating effect for categories losing funding compared to categories that received a windfall of contributions.


Included in

Economics Commons