Nonprofitable Nonprofits: Seeking High Impact in a Low-Cost World




Tunnell, Isabelle Marie

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



With the countless nonprofit organizations in America, many people are moved to donate to the ones making the most impact. Further, many people avoid donating to charities with high costs because high costs imply that less money is going to the cause than would be otherwise. This thesis will explore the operations and costs of nonprofits in order to isolate best practices for nonprofits seeking to make demonstrable, positive impact on the causes that they were designed to support. In this thesis I will explore the measurement of a nonprofit’s impact and dissect how nonprofits operate internally and externally. I will first define impact as it relates to my research. Then I will look at the external costs that nonprofits incur through marketing, fundraising, events, exposure, and changes in economic policy. The goal is to understand the costs, benefits, and impact of nonprofits’ strategies towards increasing impact. It will explore different forms of fundraising money and how large events impact costs, awareness, effectiveness, and longevity of nonprofits. Then I will explore the internal costs of running a nonprofit with a focus on employee salary and retention.
Ultimately, the following question will be answered: how can nonprofits balance revenues and costs in order to create the largest positive impact on the causes they support? This thesis will explore the amounts and types of costs that nonprofits incur along with their relative impact or success, with the goal of concluding opportunities for decreasing costs and increasing revenues for future nonprofits to consider in order to best prepare themselves for success.


LCSH Subject Headings