Assessing Capacity in Rural Nonprofits

Jayme Walters, Aaron R. Brown, Dorothy Wallis, Janice Snow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organizational capacity is necessary for nonprofits to meet their missions and contribute to society. Less is known about rural nonprofits’ organizational capacity and characteristics, as most research focuses on urban nonprofits. The present study first considers the utility of an organizational capacity assessment and identifies pertinent areas of organizational capacity in rural nonprofits. The second objective of the study is to examine relationships between areas of organizational capacity and organizational-level characteristics. In May 2019, nonprofits (n = 290) from persistently poor, rural counties in 14 southern states participated in a survey providing organizational characteristics and assessing organizational capacity. An exploratory factor analysis on the organizational capacity assessment revealed four organizational capacity areas: Organizational Identity, Fund Development, Volunteers, and Organizational Procedures. Then, descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate analyses were conducted to understand the relationships between the organizational capacity areas and organization characteristics, including organizational age, expenses, life stage, NTEE classification, and executive director tenure. Findings indicate significant relationships exist between organizational capacity and characteristics, consistent with previous studies. Older, mature, and/or larger rural nonprofits have increased capacity in several areas. Thus, targeting younger and smaller rural organizations for capacity-building efforts may be impactful.

Original languageEnglish
Article number197
JournalAdministrative Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • exploratory factor analysis
  • nonprofit assessment
  • nonprofit capacity building
  • organizational capacity
  • rural nonprofit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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