hero image
Renee Irvin - University of Oregon. Eugene, OR, US

Renee Irvin

Associate Professor, Planning, Public Policy and Management | University of Oregon

Eugene, OR, United-States

Renee Irvin is an expert in nonprofit management and the economics of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.





loading image





Renee Irvin is an expert in nonprofit management and the economics of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. At the University of Oregon, she is an associate professor and associate department head of the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management. Her research examines fundraising, philanthropy and foundation grant making, regulation of nonprofit organizations, and US policies affecting asset-building and wealth distribution. Two current projects are; the growth of private foundations in the U.S., and establishing benchmark indicators of financial health for nonprofit organizations.

Areas of Expertise (8)

University Nonprofit Curriculum Propaganda Think Tanks Economics of the Nonprofit Sector Wealth Distibution Philanthrophy Nonprofit Management Family Foundations

Media Appearances (3)

NACC Votes for Accreditation of Nonprofit and Philanthropic Academic Programs

Nonprofit Quarterly  online


In this article, NPQ interviews the two co-chairs of the NACC Task Force on Accreditation: current NACC president Matthew Hale of Seton Hall University, and NACC president-elect Renee Irvin of the University of Oregon. Many NPQ readers have likely viewed the task force’s position paper on accreditation, a product of NACC’s 2016 Accreditation Summit, and which was presented at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) annual conference later that year. The position paper lays out the background and timelines for this process...

view more

A shifting nonprofit landscape

Oregon Business  online


But Renee Irvin, a University of Oregon professor who has published research on the role of philanthropy in providing public services, warns that this growing reliance on private money to fund society’s most basic needs could put critical community services at risk. Philanthropists and smallscale donors to nonprofits generally look for programs that generate “warm, fuzzy” feelings, Irvin says. Pets or children generate these feelings. Sewer plants and police patrols do not.

view more

A donation-with-purchase might not be the best way to support a charity

Consumer Reports  online


Another advantage to giving straight to the charity: A donation is tax-deductible, unlike a cause-marketing purchase, for which the company selling the product gets the tax deduction for charitable giving. “I have a philosophical problem with that,” Irvin said. “You’re essentially getting your customer to do your donations for you.”

view more

Articles (4)

Regional Wealth and Philanthropic Capacity Mapping Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly


Since 1975, wealth distribution in the United States has grown markedly more disparate, with a larger concentration of the country’s personal wealth owned by a smaller fraction of the population. Personal wealth is an important determinant in economic well-being yet is often ignored in studies of personal finances because wealth data are difficult to collect. This article introduces techniques for analyzing wealth and philanthropic capacity on a regional scale, showing how to pinpoint regions of high wealth and philanthropic capacity for county and Census block group regions. Results show how state and county measures mask large subcounty differences in financial well-being and potential for philanthropy among residents. In essence, the article introduces a new approach to economic development via targeted regional initiatives in asset retention and philanthropy.

view more

Endowments: Stable Largesse or Distortion of the Polity? Public Administration Review


As ever more private resources are held in foundations and nonprofit organizations’ endowment funds, more scholars and practitioners are demanding that these assets be put to good use immediately. Those favoring the preservation of capital—primarily representing private foundations—sound unnecessarily cautious. This article examines endowment conservation from a variety of critical angles, finding strong rationales for both conserving and liquidating endowments. Policy responses to the buildup of endowment assets include requiring a faster payout or regulating the amount and type of administrative expenses included in annual payout. This article reviews the relationship of the business cycle and wealth distribution to annual giving. The most prudent course, in view of the cyclical nature of giving as well as the substantial generational wealth currently held by elders, appears to be to conserve significant assets now in order to establish a stable flow of future social benefits.

view more

State Regulation of Nonprofit Organizations: Accountability Regardless of Outcome Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly


Although recent calls for increased accountability of the nonprofit sector imply that the role of state regulatory agencies should expand, the costs of expanded regulation to the nonprofit sector—and indirectly to the general public and charitable beneficiaries—are significant, and should not be ignored. This article examines the motivations that state regulators have in promulgating registration and reporting requirements for nonprofit organizations and professional fund-raisers. Examination of six states with no annual requirements for nonprofit organizations or professional fund-raiser registration and financial reporting revealed no obvious accountability pathologies such as unusually high fraudulent activity or abnormally low donations to nonprofit organizations. Because nonprofit accountability in states without annual registration appears as robust as that in other states, the author proposes removal of state regulations requiring nonprofit annual registration and financial reporting. At the very least, the author urges caution in the face of increasing calls form ore stringent state regulation of nonprofit organizations.

view more

The Role of Philanthropy in Local Government Finance Public Budgeting & Finance


Nonprofit organizations thrive on the altruism of citizens, and actively court donors for major gifts. Yet individual gifts to government agencies are often unexpected, sporadic, and initiated by the donor. This article introduces the phenomenon of private giving to local governments and tests hypotheses regarding the expected forms of giving to public agencies. Results indicate that philanthropy is and will likely remain a minor and highly variable source of revenue, making it an ill-suited replacement for broad-based tax revenue. However, deliberate government efforts to provide a suitable environment for private donations appear to succeed in attracting more gifts per capita.

view more