Thank You for Being a Friends Group: An Assessment of Friends Group Characteristics and Best Practices


  • David J. Trimbach University of Kansas



nonprofits, public–nonprofit partnerships, partnerships, friends groups


A friends group is a distinct type of nonprofit organization that is created by public agencies or communities in partnerships with public agencies to contribute supplementary financial support, labor, and resources to public institutions. Notable friends groups are associated with libraries and parks. Since the 1980s, the United States has seen a proliferation of friends groups and friends group–like organizations at local, regional, state, and national scales. Friends groups and public–nonprofit partnerships are a ubiquitous nonprofit type, but scholarly research on friends groups remains limited. The purpose of this study is to contribute to this research gap by providing an assessment of friends groups in the United States. In this study, I illuminate friends group organizational development, missions, structures, and best practices. By highlighting friends group characteristics and best practices, I aim to better equip nonprofits, public agencies, communities, and practitioners with a foundational understanding of friends groups and their potential benefits.