This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Significance of the Non-Profit Sector in America: A Case Study of Hurricane Katrina




Menefee, Arturo

Type of Degree



Political Science


The purpose of this dissertation research project is to analyze the public’s perception of the capabilities (expertise, capacity, and resources) of the non-profit sector in assisting community residents following Hurricane Katrina, as well as the sector’s impact on social and economic structures in America. Four hypotheses were developed and tested to gauge the public’s perception of the non-profit sector compared to the government in the aftermath of Katrina. The hypotheses are the following: 1) In comparing organizations, non-profits are perceived as more capable in assisting residents following catastrophic events than governmental entities; 2) In comparing organizations, non-profits are perceived as more efficient than governmental entities; 3) In comparing organizations, the leaders of non-profits are less likely to be self-interested than the leaders of governmental entities; 4) In comparing organizations, non-profits receive a greater sense of trust from residents than governmental entities. For primary data collection, a 16-question survey was disseminated (face-to-face) to community residents in New Orleans. In addition to the survey, case studies (assessments) of three non-profit organizations in the New Orleans area were conducted to get a closer view of the capabilities and resources of these entities and the broader non-profit sector. Based on the data obtained from this research, it is apparent that the majority of individuals that participated in this study perceive the non-profit sector to be trustworthy, efficient, concerned and capable of meeting their needs.