Nonprofit Religious Organizations and Entrepreneurialism

  • McCarthy, John David (PI)
  • Scheitle, Christopher P. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


SES 0960617

John D. McCarthy

Pennsylvania State University

Christopher P. Scheitle

Pennsylvania State University

Research on organized American religion has focused almost exclusively on congregations and denominations. This research aims to explore an understudied but increasingly significant type of religious organization: 'parachurch' or nonprofit religious organizations (NROs). The investigators draw upon previous work on the creation of organizations to develop hypotheses about how spiritual entrepreneurs start new religious enterprises, as well as how community contexts might affect rates of NRO creation. A data set will be assembled that will allow the exploration of the sources, processes and consequences of spiritual entrepreneurialism. The investigators will survey two cohorts of newly registered NROs about their founders, founding decisions and activities, and the current status of their organization such as whether it remains viable and, if so, its size, structure and focus. Finally, a sub-set of respondents will be contacted for more extensive open-ended telephone and in-person interviews.

Broader Impacts

The research has the potential of illuminating an important domain of religious and nonprofit activity in the U.S. that contributes importantly to its religious and social vitality while at the same time integrating the study of profit making entrepreneurialism with spiritual entrepreneurialism.

Effective start/end date6/1/105/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $286,834.00


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