June 30, 2010 | Working Papers

The Politics of Need and Politics of Politics: Exploring the Motives of Donative Actors to Social Service Nonprofit Organizations in a Highly Politicized Field

Authors: Celeste Benson

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This paper explores the capacity of several induced theories of philanthropic behavior to explain foundation grant-making patterns to nonprofit social service organizations working to address teenage pregnancy through counseling on “abortion alternatives”. It argues that theories of nonprofit sector founding which stress that nonprofits will arise as a response to need do not help to explain the presence of such organizations across U.S. states in this field. Instead it argues that grant making patterns in highly politicized fields may best be explained by conceiving of funders as strategic and rational political actors whose grant-making responds to structural opportunity and incentive.

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