The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies is a leading source of ground-breaking research and knowledge about the nonprofit sector, social investing, and the tools of government. Working in collaboration with governments, international organizations, investment innovators, and colleagues around the world, the Center encourages the use of this knowledge to strengthen and mobilize the capabilities and resources of the public, nonprofit, and for-profit sectors to address the complex problems that face the world today.
The Center conducts research and educational programs that seek to improve current understanding, analyze emerging trends, and promote promising innovations in the ways that government, civil society, and business can collaborate to address social and environmental challenges.
Social investing and leveraged philanthropy
The Center’s New Frontiers of Philanthropy Project examines the many new actors and tools that are surfacing in social investing and global philanthropy, with the aim of bringing greater coherence and visibility to this emerging third generation of social-purpose finance. The project is pursuing this objective through production of a major book that will provide the first authoritative and comprehensive overview of this field and a field-broadening initiative that will bring resulting insights to a larger audience through educational materials, presentations, and training sessions.
The global nonprofit sector and volunteering
Since 1991, the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project has mobilized research teams in an expanding array of countries to conduct analyses of local nonprofit sectors, employing methods that allow comparison with other countries. This project has shattered long-standing myths and continues to demonstrate the sector’s importance in virtually every country studied–while at the same time yielding valuable lessons about the need for consistent and regular collection of data. As a result, the United Nations Statistics Division, UN Volunteers, and the International Labour Organization enlisted the Center to develop new official procedures for governments to use in collecting data on the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and volunteering.Through the UN Nonprofit Handbook and Volunteer Measurement projects, the Center is now working in partnership with international volunteer agencies to encourage and support national statistical offices in implementing these procedures. Such international partnerships place these efforts at the forefront of developing, testing, and disseminating new procedures for capturing expanded measures of these important factors in national economic statistics.
The U.S. nonprofit sector
The Center operates two major projects focused on the U.S. nonprofit sector. The Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Listening Post Project, a collaboration with nonprofit intermediary organizations and over 1200 grassroots nonprofits across the country, identifies key trends and challenges facing nonprofit organizations and disseminates the innovative strategies they have adopted in response. The Nonprofit Economic Data Project examines U.S. nonprofit employment, finances, and volunteering. This project has developed a way to tap an enormously rich body of official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, providing important new insights into nonprofit employment trends and allowing us to track the health and viability of U.S. nonprofit organizations in communities across the country.
Tools of public action
The Center’s Tools of Government Project examines the proliferation of new instruments, or tools, of public action—such as contracts, loan guarantees, vouchers, and tax expenditures—that are altering the way in which government operates and implements public programs. The project is working to educate the leaders of today and tomorrow on ways to manage these tools and to maximize their positive impact.
In addition to these projects, Center Director Lester Salamon collaborates with the Aspen Institute and colleagues throughout the country in producing a regular State of Nonprofit America series of books, and with the Foundation Center to produce regular editions of America’s Nonprofit Sector: A Primer.
The Center is part of the Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.