Oil and water rarely mix: Exploring the stability of US nonprofit revenue mixes over time

Start date: 
Wed, 01/05/2013
Closing date: 
Wed, 01/05/2013
Cantor Building, Room 9206 (4 pm)
Event contact: 
Dr Tony Gore

Simon Teasdale - University of Birmingham


Hansmann (1987) distinguished between donative and commercial nonprofits on the basis of their primary sources of income. Although recognizing that boundaries between these two ideal types were blurred, Hansmann saw no need to develop a third category of mixed revenue nonprofit, perhaps because these organizations were not, in his view, sufficiently numerous or theoretically distinct enough to warrant more than a passing mention. Since Hansmann’s contribution, considerable attention has been paid to the emergence of mixed revenue forms of nonprofits which combine donative and commercial revenue, in part as a response to resource dependency (Froelich, 1999) or the benefits of diversification (Carroll & Stater, 2008) and appeal to multiple stakeholder groups (Young, 2007). But combining different revenue sources may prove problematic over time as nonprofits must negotiate competing social and commercial logics (Billis, 2010). In this paper we set out to explore:

RQ1: The extent to which US Nonprofits are increasingly adopting mixed revenue strategies

RQ2: How stable are these mixed revenue strategies over time?

RQ3: Which groups of nonprofits are able to maintain mixed revenue strategies over time?

To achieve this we constructed a panel from IRS Forms 990 that 501(c) (3) charitable organizations filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We believe that this data set contains the full population of nonreligious 501(c) (3) organizations with annual revenue above $25,000 filing IRS Form 990 in these years. The seminar will present the results from this exploratory research, outline potential new areas for research not non-profit revenue mixes, and discuss the relevance of our findings for English third sector organisations.


Simon Teasdale is Research Fellow at the ESRC Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Birmingham and Visiting Fellow at Georgia State University and the University of New South Wales. His research interests include policy discourses of social enterprise, particularly their international transfer, and the ways in which third sector organisations identify (or otherwise) with dominant policy discourses. He has recently published papers in Economy and Society, Housing Studies, Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, Public Money and Management and Public Policy and Administration.


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