September 1, 2009 | Working Papers

Getting to Know You: Awareness and Confidence in the Nonprofit Sector

Authors: Lindsey M. McDougle



The legitimacy of the nonprofit sector is built on trust and confidence.1 From a theoretical perspective the very existence of the sector has been attributed to perceptions of greater trustworthiness in nonprofits than in for-profit organizations (Hansmann, 1980; Hansmann, 1987; Holtmann & Ullman, 1993; Weisbrod, 1988; Rose Ackerman, 1996; Anheier & Ben-Ner, 1997). In practical terms trust and confidence can affect governance, involvement, and regulation of nonprofits. Thus, trust and confidence have often been viewed as crucial elements in evaluating the performance and overall health of the nonprofit sector—and ultimately among two of the sector’s most important commodities (Toppe & Kirsh, 2002; Sargeant & Lee, 2002; Fukuyama, 1995).