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The Social Meaning of Money in Nonprofit Organizations: A Case Study of Formal and Informal Earmarking of Money

Ola Segnestam Larsson, Susanna Alexius


By studying mechanisms, justifications, and valuations, this article analyzes the social meaning of earmarked money in a nonprofit organization. Focusing on the social meaning of money implies gaining insights into the moral underpinnings and justifications of the origin and generation of money as well as processes by which various streams of money are earmarked. Based on previous literature as well as our own research, we offer two models for understanding and studying processes that earmark and justify the earmarking of money. We illustrate the relevance of these models in a case study of the nonprofit organization IOGT-NTO in Sweden. We conclude the article by presenting key implications for nonprofit leadership and future research, including the recommendation that leaders need to analyze earmarking processes as well as how these processes affect organizations and to what ends money may be used.

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nonprofit organizations; earmarking; money; valuation; social meaning

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