Who Will Provide? The Changing Role of Religion in American Social Welfare

By Mary Jo Bane; Brent Coffin et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
After Partnership:
Rethinking
Public-Nonprofit Relations

Peter Frumkin

Public management of the delivery of services by the nonprofit sector should move toward strategies that promote more autonomy for faith- based nonprofits and that support independent and pluralistic nonprofit initiatives.

THE NONPROFIT AND PUBLIC SECTORS have frequently been described as collaborators or partners in public service, sharing a common commitment to meeting community needs 1. However, as the nonprofit sector has grown in size and as many organizations have begun to compete for public funds, the sector's fundamental orientation to service through voluntary action has been in the midst of radical reinvention. In an increasingly competitive environment, many nonprofits have been forced to go to great lengths to secure public funds, sometimes modifying their missions and changing their operations in order to survive financially 2. As a consequence of the growing financial pressures within the nonprofit sector, the character of public-nonprofit relations has clearly changed, and this has in turn called into question the adequacy of the dominant "partnership" model.

The increasing role of the nonprofit sector in the delivery of publicly funded services has also created new challenges for the field of public management. 3 Chief among these is how public managers can best negotiate the real tensions that now characterize this complex relationship, especially when faith-based nonprofits are involved. Rather than working toward tighter oversight and more programmatic control, I will argue, public management should move in the opposite direction toward strategies that promote more sectoral autonomy and, in the process, support independent and pluralistic nonprofit initiatives. Such an approach entails rethinking what accountability means and how oversight should be exercised when public and nonprofit sectors interact. Several

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