Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Dr. Fred J. Galloway, Chair; Dr. Laura Deitrick, Member; Dr. Rich Callahan, Member


nonprofit capacity building, civil society, resource dependency theory, local government, nonprofit partnerships


Nonprofit organizations have emerged as being indispensable in promoting community development, advocating for citizens’ rights, and improving citizens’ well-being. Local government leaders have demonstrated an investment in the role nonprofits play in strengthening civil society and have pursued nonprofit capacity building as a tool to both engage and develop nonprofit organizations. In an effort to both increase the capacity of nonprofit organizations and decrease the adverse effects of resource dependence, the City of San Diego, in 2016, partnered with the University of San Diego to design a nonprofit capacity building program titled The Nonprofit Academy. Over a period of three years, 735 organizations participated in the program, and a sample of these organizations was used to examine the prevalence of the internal and external factors that contribute to local government nonprofit capacity building and, concomitantly, their impact on nonprofit dependency.

This study used an exploratory sequential mixed methods research design. Data collection and analysis occurred over three phases: qualitative interviews of program participants selected through purposeful sampling; the development and distribution of a new survey instrument; and data collection and interpretation of findings. The results of this study indicate that local government nonprofit capacity building in the City of San Diego has a positive impact on the number and the diversity of applications being submitted for funding. The diversity of applications included age range, size, service type, and new geographic locations. Among the four core dimensions of nonprofit capacity identified by the Marguerite Casey Foundation: leadership capacity, adaptive capacity, management capacity, and technical capacity, there was a strong positive correlation found between technical capacity and adaptive capacity within a core group of participants, and also a strong negative correlation between management capacity and technical capacity.

This study identified an actionable typology of local government nonprofit capacity building that serves as a framework to guide local governments in the design of capacity building initiatives to both engage and develop nonprofit organizations to expand services and build a better society. Local government nonprofit capacity building can contribute to financial growth and increased partnerships for small and emerging nonprofit organizations.

Document Type

Dissertation: USD Users Only


Leadership Studies