Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

Fall 2023

Publication Title

Local Government and Small Town America


Organizational Communication


Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business


The connection between public administration and nonprofit administration has been in existence since ancient times, when individual volunteers (the predecessors of a formal nonprofit sector) met humanitarian needs to which the government was unwilling or unable to attend. Addams (1910) formalized this intersecting relationship during her time working in Chicago’s slums with refugees. Pandey & Johnsons (2019) drew connections between public administration, public policy, and nonprofit management. They concluded that discoveries in one of those domains should necessarily be applied to the others. They advised that continued research should draw explicit connections across those sectors and highlighted examples of the many intersections between the three.

Nonprofit organizations play a particularly active and critical role in rural communities across the U.S. They often serve as a gap-filling mechanism to meet demands unmet by government entities stretched thin across sparsely populated areas (Walters, 2020; Kieffer, 2020). In addition to limited federal and state resources, nonprofit organizations in rural communities operate in a complicated local political environment wherein they are often perceived as competitors for limited local resources. This political climate is made additionally problematic by the reality of small-town interpersonal relationship dynamics and multi-generational family histories that permeate the local population. To a greater extent than their urban counterparts, nonprofit practitioners in rural communities contend with outsider status, local perceptions, and persistent lack of funding.

This chapter explores these challenges through the founding and growth of one nonprofit inter-disciplinary arts education organization in a rural Appalachian community by examining

the opportunities and challenges confronting nonprofit organizations in rural communities. The chapter concludes with a strong case for the essential value that nonprofit organizations bring to rural communities.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a chapter published by Taylor & Francis in Business Issues in the Arts, available at



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