Competition and Sensegiving: Nonprofit Markets and Organizational Signaling


  • Adam Eckerd Old Dominion University
  • Jacob Fowles University of Kansas
  • Jamie Levine Daniel Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
  • Riley Sandel New York State Division of the Budget



Nonprofit Competition, Sensegiving, Nonprofit Markets


In this paper, we investigate how an organization’s position within its nonprofit marketplace influences how nonprofits convey images about themselves to their stakeholders. We discuss the nature of competition in the nonprofit sector and explore the different competitive positions that nonprofits find themselves in. We assess how this positionality affects the ways that nonprofits attempt to convey images, or senses, of themselves to external audiences. We find that these sensegiving approaches are affected by competition, particularly when considered together with the stage of the organization’s lifecycle.

Author Biographies

  • Adam Eckerd, Old Dominion University

    Adam Eckerd is an associate professor in the School of Public Service at Old Dominion University. He conducts research on organizational and individual decision making in complex settings, particularly as it relates to how risk is assessed and how information is used to manage public and nonprofit programs and policies.

  • Jacob Fowles, University of Kansas

    Jacob Fowles is an affiliate member of the faculty of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas.

  • Jamie Levine Daniel, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis

    Jamie Levine Daniel is an associate professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. Her research focuses on the relationship between nonprofit resource acquisition and program service delivery, with interest on the relationship between earned revenue and mission. She earned her PhD at Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs. She has recently published in Voluntas, Nonprofit Management & Theory, and Administration & Society.

  • Riley Sandel, New York State Division of the Budget

    Riley Sandel is a Budget Fellow with the New York State Division of the Budget, working on general government and workforce topics.






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