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The Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy develops research that has a meaningful impact on the nonprofit sector. This research improves Texas leaders’ understanding of the scope, structure, and capacity of nonprofits and philanthropy in Texas and beyond. Additionally, the program collaborates with a network of scholars in the field. Research articles have been published in the top national journals in the core areas of: governance, strategic management, grant making and philanthropy.

Professor standing around a computer with two students

The CNP continues to engage in and produce research to create a meaningful impact on the nonprofit sector. Below is some of the research completed by the center. If you are interested in partnering with the center for future research, reach out to our center staff on our “people” page.

The center collaborates with many organizations locally, across the state, and around the country. Some of our recent research partners are highlighted below.

Dr. Will Brown

Dr. Brown’s research focuses on nonprofit governance, strategy, and organizational effectiveness. He has authored numerous research articles, technical reports, and several practice-oriented publications.


Strategic Management in Nonprofit Organizations book coverStrategic Management in Nonprofit Organizations uses a strategic management framework to consider key decisions that nonprofit managers and volunteer leaders confront as they plan and work to position their organizations for optimal success.

Brown, William A. Strategic Management in Nonprofit Organizations. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 1 edition (March 11, 2014).

Nonprofit Governance: Innovative perspectives and approaches book coverNonprofit Governance: Innovative Perspectives and Approaches. This collection offers a comprehensive assessment of research on the governance of nonprofit organizations. Drawing on the research of leading scholars in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, this book presents new perspectives on non-profit governance, which help to overcome these weaknesses.

Cornforth, Chris, & Brown, William A. Nonprofit Governance: Innovative Perspectives and Approaches. Routledge (June 19, 2013).

Recent Journal Articles

Dr. Kenneth Taylor

Dr. Mary E. Hilderbrand

Dr. Hilderbrand’s research interests include governance reform, politics of reform and factors that influence patterns of implementation of reforms; international development cooperation; and capacity development, especially related to the public sector but also to nonprofit organizations. Earlier in her professional career, she led research projects on technical cooperation in international development assistance and its outcomes for local capacity in partner countries. That research included case studies in a number of African, Latin American, and Asian countries. More recently, she was co-leader of a research project on governance reforms in Mexico. Her work on the use of targets in governance reform, as part of a larger project assessing the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, was published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press as part of an edited volume.

Hilderbrand’s attention to both international development cooperation and processes of governance reform in developing countries has included a concern with the participation of citizens and civil society organizations. That has led her to a newer area of research interest more clearly focused on civil society organizations and NGOs. Her current research efforts include the Border Nonprofit project, studying the nonprofit sector along the US-Mexican border. In addition, she is launching a study of CSOs and NGOs whose mission is to push for better governance, including transparency and anti-corruption efforts. The planned study will include several country case studies and will profile and analyze the governance-focused subset of nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Ellie Heng Qu

Dr. Qu’s research interests and current projects include nonprofit revenue management and organizational capacity, nonprofit financial reporting and accountability, social innovation and impact investing, motivations for individual charitable giving and nonprofit resource development, effects of pro-social behavior on people's well-being, and experimental studies.

Recent Published Papers

Qu, Heng, & Osili, Una. (2017). Beyond Grantmaking: An Investigation of Program-Related Investments by U.S. Foundations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 46(2): 305-329.

Qu, Heng & Steinberg, Richard. (2017). Charitable Giving in Nonprofit Service Associations: Identities, Incentives, and Gender Differences. Accepted in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 46(5): 984 – 1005.

Dr. Robbie Robichau

Dr. Robbie Robichau's work examines empirical and normative questions surrounding the changing nonprofit sector landscape and addresses fundamental questions concerning the basic nature of the work nonprofits do and how nonprofits are managed given environmental pressures. More specifically, she uses original survey data set to study the marketization and adoption of business practices by child welfare agencies, the effects of government contracts on nonprofit organizational capacity and effectiveness, and the various external forces shaping managerial priorities.

Her current projects expands upon these themes through exploring manager's experiences of meaningfulness in public service organizations and how nonprofits contribute to civic health of their communities. Using data from 45 interviewers, she and her colleague are studying the competing pressures street-level bureaucrats in nonprofit and public organizations face as they deal with the tension between being achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness, along with the desire to deliver a public mission of caring for and serving others. In essence, are these workers finding meaningfulness in their jobs through the work they do, their workplace relationships, or the broader impacts their organizations have on society?

Another set of projects with other colleagues considers how nonprofits contribute to a community's civic health through establishing generative and mediating institutional roles. Specially, they explore how community-based nonprofits develop civic health through civic engagement, political participation, and social capital. Her research agenda seeks to link broader questions of nonprofit governance in a democratic society at the organizational-level with more narrow concerns of what happens to individuals as they try to find meaningfulness in these public serving organizations.

Recent Refereed Articles & Chapters

Robichau, R. W. & Wang, Lili. (2018) Marketization strategies and the influence of business on the management of child welfare agencies. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, & Governance, 42(2): 146-165.

Kraeger, P. & Robichau, R. W. (2017). Questioning stakeholder legitimacy: A model of philanthropic accountability. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, 39(4): 470- 519.

Robichau, R. W. & Fernandez, K. Intersectoral experiences: Nonprofit managers and sector influences in child welfare agencies. (2017). Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership, & Governance, 41(1): 76-93.

Robichau, R. W. The intersection of positive organizational scholarship and organizational change. (2017). In P. Kraeger, S. Cloutier, C. Talmage, (Eds.). Dimensions in community well- being (pp. 231-254). Springer.

Texas Nonprofit Sector coverTexas Nonprofit Sector: Growth and Change (1995 - 2012) (2015)
Final Report

Texas Nonprofit Sector: Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations coverTexas Nonprofit Sector: Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations (2014)
Final Report

Texas Nonprofit Sector: Describing the Size & Scope coverTexas Nonprofit Sector: Describing the Size & Scope (2013)
Final Report

Capstone research provides a unique opportunity for various organizations to engage with a dedicated team of Bush School students in a year-long project. Past capstone projects are available at If you are interested in engaging in a capstone project, please reach out to the center for more information on the application process. Capstone applications are available in early spring.

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