Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Sarah N. Heiss


Two of the most pressing challenges in the world today are food and water access. Charitable organizations frequently use cross-sector collaboration to address food and water access. Cross-sector collaboration is grounded in knowledge, relationships, communication, action, and trust, which cultivate innovation and resilience. However, very few studies have discussed the connections between collaboration, service delivery, and perceptions. Using a convergent design of mixed methods, this thesis examined how cross-sector collaboration enhances service delivery and resilience in charitable organizations. Specifically, the project is guided by three research questions: (1) What communication practices support effective cross-sector collaborations for impactful service delivery for charitable organizations in the food and water sectors?, (2) Which drinking water perceptions and behaviors can predict favorable views on water safety?, and (3) In what ways do the themes from the interview data describing staff observations on collaboration at charitable organizations complement the quantitative results about water safety perceptions reported on the surveys from Ccorca households?

Chapter Three examines the contextual factors of collaboration for charitable service delivery. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE) and 33 Buckets to examine the first research question. Thematic analysis of thirty-eight semi-structured interviews revealed two primary themes of collaboration that improved service delivery. The relationship between these factors is discussed, including how they complement each other. In practice, nonprofits and charitable organizations can expand their relationships, increase their knowledge, and reach more people with cross-sector collaboration.

Chapter Four examines the relationship between drinking water perceptions/behaviors and households’ views on water safety. Likert scale survey data from forty-three households in Ccorca, Peru were analyzed with frequency distributions and crosstabs with Chi-square tests. The results revealed two perceptions and one behavior that supported positive views on drinking water safety. In practice, these findings can help nonprofits focus their efforts on training and evaluating usage patterns to expand their impact.

Chapter Five examines the mixed interpretation of these findings to understand how cross-sector collaboration complements service delivery perceptions. It was concluded that network growth, sharing knowledge, and trust improved service delivery and perceptions of the service. Theoretical and practical contributions resulting from this thesis are discussed in the final chapter. This research added meaningful contributions to the community development sector on how collaboration helps charitable organizations better serve their communities and theorizes how service delivery perceptions are affected by collaboration. By understanding how cross-sector collaboration enhances service delivery and resilience, organizations will be able to focus on the factors that enhance collaboration to improve the outcomes for their partner communities.



Number of Pages

152 p.

Available for download on Sunday, June 30, 2024