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This article is based on interviews with more than forty government and nonprofit organization staff members
in seven counties in central North Carolina. Human services agencies were targeted because North Carolina county governments are most likely to fund nonprofits in that area of service. (For a further discussion of counties’ relationships with nonprofits, see the article on page 25.) The two largest counties, Wake and Mecklenburg, were excluded from the study as atypical. The remaining ninety-eight counties were categorized as small, medium, and large on the basis of population, and counties from each category were chosen for study. The study’s geographic reach was limited initially by budgetary constraints and later by the traumatic impact of Hurricane Floyd on eastern North Carolina—no counties from the far western or far eastern areas of the state were included. However, the seven counties in the study included both urban and rural areas that represented a diversity of cultural and political traditions. During the study we asked local government and nonprofit organization staff to assess the nature of their work with each other—how they interacted, what worked well in their relationships, and what factors limited their relationships. We also asked them to describe the differences in decision-making or operational style and the ways in which those differences affected working relationships. Finally, we asked about specific changes that local government and nonprofit organization staff would like to see in relationships or in the way in which services were delivered in their counties. In every community where we interviewed, respondents candidly shared their views. The study was part of a larger project (supported by a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund) to identify and create ways to help nonprofit organizations and government agencies work together to serve the public more effectively.

Cite as: 

Altman-Sauer, L., Henderson, M., P. Whitaker, G., (2001) “Strengthening Relationships between Local Governments and Nonprofits”

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Gordon Whitaker, Lydian Altman, Margaret Henderson
Public Sector Relationships