Nonprofits and public good provision: A contest based on compromises


European Economic Review

November 2006, vol. 50, n°8, pp.1909-1935

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy

Keywords: VoluntarismPublic good auctionCitizen heterogeneity

Two competing nonprofits with ideologically distinct missions compete for donor funding to provide an indivisible public good in a population with heterogeneous preferences. This paper examines the extent to which (average) public values are undermined and nonprofits’ ideology compromised in a contractual game in which the right to provide the public good is the outcome of competition between nonprofits. We also scrutinize the roles of (i) cooperative versus competitive contracting, (ii) multiple public goods, (iii) enforceability of actions and (iv) observability of nonprofit costs in determining the equilibrium terms of the contract. In each case, the intensity of the ideological divide between the donor and the nonprofits jointly impact the degree to which compromises are made in terms of both the public's and nonprofit's missions, and the ability on the part of the donor to reap double (cost-saving and strategic) financial gains