Charity, Philanthropy, Public Service, or Enterprise: What Are the Big Questions of Nonprofit Management Today?


Roger A. Lohmann is a professor and director of the Nova Institute in the School of Applied Sciences at West Virginia University. He is the author of The Commons: New Perspectives on Nonprofit Organization, Voluntary Action and Philanthropy (Jossey-Bass, 1992) and coeditor of Rural Social Work Practice (Columbia University Press, 2005).


“Nonprofit sector” issues, both in public discourse and pedagogy, are too narrowly cast as problems confronting public-serving nonprofits and grant-making foundations. Consisting also of membership organizations, educational institutions, and political pressure groups, the sector constitutes a major force in society which, in its interactive entirety, might better be termed a “social economy.” This social economy both influences and is shaped by public administration, and it is now very much under public scrutiny. The author raises seminal questions that challenge the mission, management, and resources of this critical sector of society.