Meeting Funder Compliance

A Case Study of Challenges, Time Spent, and Dollars Invested

by Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Paul S. Steinberg


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Funders provide financial support to nonprofit organizations, which use the funding to implement programs that provide services to clients. A key part of this relationship is the need for nonprofits to ensure funding compliance — the need to report program progress and expenditures to funders. This case study, the first of its kind, examines the management processes of one nonprofit in terms of staff time investments in tracking outcomes, reporting results, and meeting funder compliance, and is guided by research questions, developed in partnership with the Forbes Funds, addressing the related challenges, experiences, and costs through interviews and focus groups with nonprofit staff. The recommendations of this case study point to specific areas for improvement and increased efficiency in nonprofits’ compliance-related activities, as well as areas in which funders might reevaluate their compliance requirements. This study includes sample survey instruments for interviews and focus group discussions with nonprofit management and field staff that address the challenges and costs, from a staff perspective, of achieving and maintaining funder compliance. Although this study focuses on a single nonprofit organization, the findings of this study may be applicable to any organization that is seeking to improve compliance-related processes.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Overview of Case Study Site

  • Chapter Three

    Case Study Findings

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Management Staff Interview Protocol

  • Appendix B

    Field Staff Interview Focus Group Protocol

  • Appendix C

    Field Staff Confidential Interview Protocol

  • Appendix D

    Distribution of Compliance Hours

  • Appendix E

    Distribution of Compliance Dollars

The research described in this report was supported by the Forbes Funds, a supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation, and through the RAND Corporation’s continuing program of self-initiated independent research. This research was conducted within RAND Labor and Population, a unit of the RAND Corporation.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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