This concise and illuminating book provides a road map to the evolving conceptual and policy terrain of the nonprofit sector. Drawing on prominent economic, political, and sociological explanations of nonprofit activity, Peter Frumkin focuses on four important functions that have come to define nonprofit organizations. The author clarifies the debate over the underlying rationale for the nonprofit and voluntary sector’s privileged position in America by examining how nonprofits deliver needed services, promote civic engagement, express values and faith, and channel entrepreneurial impulses. He also exposes the difficult policy questions that have emerged as the boundaries between the nonprofit, business, and government sectors have blurred.
Focusing on nonprofits’ growing dependence on public funding, tendency toward political polarization, often idiosyncratic missions, and increasing commercialism, Peter Frumkin argues that the long-term challenges facing nonprofit organizations will only be solved when they achieve greater balance among their four central functions. By probing foundational thinking as well as emergent ideas, the book is an essential guide for nonprofit novitiates and experts alike who want to understand the issues propelling public debate about the future of their sector. By virtue of its breadth and insight, Frumkin’s book will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the complex interplay of public purposes and private values that animate nonprofit organizations.