Strategic Changes in Nonprofit Service Delivery Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Methods Study (2022)
Smith, G. A. (2022). Strategic changes in nonprofit service delivery arising from the COVID-19 pandemic: A mixed-methods study [Doctoral dissertation, University of Lynchburg].
The organizational environment that emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was essentially a new phenomenon. The extent to which public charities were transformed for the long term, and the nature of enduring changes that they adopted, were not immediately clear. This study employed mixed methods—specifically, an explanatory sequential design—to assess and describe service delivery changes that occurred among nonprofits with offices in Virginia’s piedmont region. An online survey was administered to 175 nonprofit leaders (mostly chief executives and service/program officers). Specific kinds of change were grouped into 8 dependent variables, with some being defined a priori and others being extracted from the data. A variety of statistical procedures were run, finding significant differences or predictive relationships (p ≤ .05) for several independent variables, including organizational attributes (age, annual expenditures, National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities classification, and presence of a faith-based mission/identity), one respondent attribute (role in organization), and congruence with one theory (strategic management). Differences and effects were generally small. No difference or relationship was found for respondent sex or congruence with two other theories (resource dependence and neo-institutionalism). After performing substantial quantitative analysis, the researcher conducted guided interviews with 7 leaders who had responded to the survey. All panelists qualified as key informants; collectively, they were selected to represent the diversity of the region’s nonprofits. Qualitative data were analyzed through a recursive process that included writing analytical memos, creating verbatim transcripts, and performing multiple stages of coding. Interview findings, which were written up in the voice of the panelists, illustrated shifts in demand for nonprofit services, the emergence of virtual delivery in parallel or combination with in-person services, and the launch of new services, among other patterns of persistent change. Interviewee statements exhibited congruence with strategic management, resource dependence theory, and neo-institutional theory. Findings from the two data sets were integrated, showing areas of corroboration and conflict. Finally, the researcher formulated implications for nonprofit management, policy-making, and research.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit organizations, service delivery, organizational change, organizational theories, Virginia piedmont, explanatory sequential design