Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

“We Actually Trust the Community:” Examining the Dynamics of a Nonprofit Funding Relationship in New Zealand


Funding relationships in nonprofit management are increasingly defined by a philosophy of rational management, characterized by measurement of outputs and benchmarking, which represents an audit culture system (Burnley, Matthews, & McKenzie, 2005). There is concern that these approaches are constantly undermining the mission of community service nonprofit organizations (Darcy, 2002). In this research, we analyzed the management of funding relationships by examining dynamics within a nonprofit funding relationship in New Zealand. Through focus groups we explored the relationship between 17 representatives from nonprofit organizations and four Board members of a funding Trust. The management of this funding relationship was characterized by an appreciation of the diverse nature of nonprofit organizations, a balance between trust and control, and communication. We suggest that elements of these dynamics could be incorporated into nonprofit funding relationships in order to challenge an over-reliance on audit culture systems, and to re-establish relationships characterized by interaction between nonprofit organizations and their funders. Finally, we call for future research in this area.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adcroft, A., & Willis, R. (2005). The (un)intended outcome of public sector performance measurement. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 18, 386–400.

  2. Baxter, J., & Chua, W. F. (2003). Alternative management and accounting research – whence and whither. Accounting, Organizations, and Society, 28, 97–126.

  3. Bransden, T., van de Donk, W., & Putters, K. (2005). Griffins or chameleons? Hybridity as a permanent and inevitable characteristic of the third sector. International Journal of Public Administration, 28, 749–765.

  4. Burnley, C., Matthews, C., & McKenzie, S. (2005). Devolution of services to children and families: The experience of NPOs in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Voluntas, 16, 69–87.

  5. Cooper, D. (1995). Power in struggle. Buckingham: Open University Press.

  6. Darcy, M. (2002). Community management. How management discourse killed participation. Critical Quarterly, 44, 32–39.

  7. Das, T. K., & Teng, B.-S. (1998). Between trust and control: Developing confidence in partner cooperation in alliances. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 491–512.

  8. Eikenberry, A. M., & Kluver, J. D. (2004). The marketization of the nonprofit sector: Civil society at risk? Public Administration Review, 64(2), 132–140.

  9. Evers, A. (2005). Mixed welfare systems and hybrid organizations: Changes in the governance and provision of social services. International Journal of Public Administration, 28, 737–748.

  10. Ferlie, E., & Steane, P. (2002). Changing developments in NPM. International Journal of Public Administration, 25(12), 1459–1469.

  11. Foucault, M. (1980). Truth and power. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/Knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

  12. Huxham, C., & Vangen, S. (1996). Working together. Key themes in the management of relationships between public and non-profit organizations. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 9(7), 5–17.

  13. Huxham, C., & Vangen, S. (2000). Leadership in the shaping and implementation of collaboration agendas: How things happen in a (not quite) joined up world. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 1159–1175.

  14. McQueen, M. (2004). Us and them. Decoding the language of nonprofit-business partnerships. Nonprofit World, 22, 21–22.

  15. Mook, L., Richmond, B. J., & Quarter, J. (2003). Integrated social accounting for nonprofits: A case from Canada. Voluntas, 14(3), 283–297.

  16. Parsons, E., & Broadbridge, A. (2004). Managing change in nonprofit organizations: Insights from the UK charity retail sector. Voluntas, 15, 227–242.

  17. Quarter, J., & Richmond, B. J. (2001). Accounting for social value in nonprofits and for-profits. Nonprofit management and leadership, 12, 75–85.

  18. Richmond, B. J., Mook, L., & Quarter, J. (2003). Social accounting for nonprofits. Nonprofit management and leadership 13, 308–323.

  19. Ring, P. S., & Van de Ven, A. H. (1992). Structuring cooperative relationships between organisations. Strategic Management Journal, 13, 483–498.

  20. Wilson, L.-A., & Boyle, E. (2004). The role of partnerships in the delivery of local government museum services. A case study from Northern Ireland. The International Journal of Public Sector Management, 17(6), 513–533.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Sally Shaw.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shaw, S., Allen, J.B. “We Actually Trust the Community:” Examining the Dynamics of a Nonprofit Funding Relationship in New Zealand. Voluntas 17, 211–220 (2006).

Download citation


  • Nonprofit
  • Trust
  • Control
  • Communication
  • Organizational knowledge
  • Service delivery
  • New Zealand