A GuideStar Initiative to Improve Donor Choice

Research and Resources

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Please see Page 2 of the Letter to the Donors of America from more statistics and quotes about the Overhead Myth

To learn more about the overhead costs in the nonprofit sector, see the following research and resources from experts across the country: 



The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle – Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2009

Getting What We Pay For: Low Overhead Limits Nonprofit Effectiveness – Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Urban Institute & Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University

What We Know About Overhead Costs in the Nonprofit Sector – Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, Urban Institute & Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University

Nonprofit Overhead Costs: Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Misleading Reporting, Unrealistic Expectations, and Pressure to Conform – The Bridgespan Group, April 2008

Let’s Admit It – The Emperor is Naked: Functional Expense Reporting for Nonprofit Organizations is Voodoo – The Nonprofit Watchmen, Spring 2013

Where’d My Money Go? Americans Perceptions of the Financial Efficiency of Nonprofit Organizations – GreyMatter Research, 2008

Paying for Not Paying for Overhead – Foundation News and Commentary, May/June 2005

Management and General Expenses: The Other Half of Overhead – The Nonprofit Quarterly, Spring 2003


Dan Pallotta: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong – TED 2013

“If We Want Our Funding to Change the World…” Video and Discussion Guide – Donors Forum, May 2013

Good Charities Spend More on Administration than Less Good Charities Spend – Giving Evidence, May 2013

The Worst Way to Judge a Charity – Los Angeles Times, April 2012


**Note: the opinions expressed in the above resources should be considered those of the author(s), and not necessarily endorsed by GuideStar. We seek to bring you related viewpoints to aid in your understanding of the Overhead Myth. 

10 Responses to “Research and Resources”

  1. James Heidebrecht

    I look at the salaries of the top executives.
    Some are way out of line.

  2. Richard Steinberg

    I have published a bunch of articles on this subject in academic journals. It has been a major part of my research career. Let me know if you want to link to any of these articles on the site, or email me for more details.

  3. credit cards with 0 interest on balance transfers

    Is it ok if I repost a few of your articles as long as I give credit and sources back to overheadmyth.
    com? My website is in the exact same niche as your own and my readers would easily learn
    from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this would be
    fine. Cheers

    • lnichols

      Hi Jaqueline – thanks for your interest. Please email me, Lindsay Nichols, at lnichols@guidestar.org, so we can discuss where you’d like to repost our content, and which content in particular you’d like to post. Thanks! ~Lindsay


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