The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector

Course Syllabus Focus

Social Sector

Course Syllabus Institution

Indiana University
Jeavons, Thomas H.

This course is an introduction to the nonprofit and voluntary sector in the United States. We will examine the number, size, scope, and function of nonprofit institutions taken as a whole and in various categories, and look at historical and current trends. We will explore the philosophical, political, economic, legal, and historical rationales for the existence of the sector. We will consider the various roles these organizations play in American society, public policy issues related to the sector, and the reasons why people associate, give money, and donate time. The primary goals of this course are develop students’ competencies so that they can:

  • understand and describe the contours and composition of the sector;
  • define and critique key terms, theories, and ideas in the literature and public discourse about nonprofit organizations and civil society;
  • explain and analyze the theories as well as history of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector in the United States;
  • critically evaluate public policy and management issues related to nonprofits and philanthropy; and
  • articulate their own personal definition of and perspective on the role(s) and capacity of philanthropy in American society.

Blog Posts

More on time, value, and time limits

February 19, 2018

A new report applies a theory of time and value in philanthropy to three real cases, to see how a foundation could decide whether to operate with a limited life, based on the amount and kind of value it hopes to create.


Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation