The size, concentration and growth of biodiversity-conservation nonprofits

Paul R. Armsworth, Isla S. Fishburn, Zoe G. Davies, Jennifer Gilbert, Natasha Leaver, Kevin J. Gaston

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Nonprofit organizations play a critical role in efforts to conserve biodiversity. Their success in this regard will be determined in part by how effectively individual nonprofits and the sector as a whole are structured. One of the most fundamental questions about an organization's structure is how large it should be, with the logical counterpart being how concentrated the whole sector should be. We review empirical patterns in the size, concentration, and growth of over 1700 biodiversity-conservation nonprofits registered for tax purposes in the United States within the context of relevant economic theory. Conservation-nonprofit sizes vary by six to seven orders of magnitude and are positively skewed. Larger nonprofits access more revenue streams and hold more of their assets in land and buildings than smaller or midsized nonprofits do. The size of conservation nonprofits varies with the ecological focus of the organization, but the growth rates of nonprofits do not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • conservation finance
  • conservation planning
  • firm size distribution
  • industrial organization
  • nongovernmental organization

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