Bridging the Gaps: Local Government and Nonprofit Collaborations

Todd Collins, John David Gerlach


Local governments and nonprofit organizations often struggle to provide quality services to their residents and clients. One potential way for these organizations to overcome obstacles in service provision is to engage in joint programming and service delivery. In this study, we use original survey data collected from local government and nonprofit managers in the state of North Carolina to examine recent trends in collaboration between these sectors. Specifically, we explore the perceptions of these managers concerning the types of collaborations that work best, the types of collaborations that are least successful, and the factors that foster or hinder cooperation. We also explore the perceptions that these managers have about the other. We hypothesize that positive perceptions of the other sector, greater access to resources, operating in a more urbanized environment, and participation in past positive cross-sector collaboration experiences will all lead to increased collaboration between local governments and nonprofits. We find, however, that although an organization’s resources and managerial perceptions of the other sector do influence collaboration, having participated in a past successful collaboration does not necessarily lead to an increase in future partnerships.


Local Government; Nonprofit; Collaboration; Partnerships

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