Tag Archives: nonprofit

The Hidden Contributions of Local Staff When Hosting International Development Volunteers

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This exploratory study identifies what additional work-roles local staff take on when their organization hosts a long-term international development volunteer, and explains why they do this. Analyzing interview data from a sample of local employees in Vietnamese organizations, the study identifies five work-roles: two that buttressed “volunteer and organization readiness” (preparing and orienting) and three that facilitated “volunteer performance” (translating, advocating, and mediating). These roles, often outside the formal work-role and expertise of the local employees, added to their cognitive and emotional loads and to a large extent went unrecognized by their employers. They were motivated by a combination of personal benefit (notably, opportunities to learn) and reciprocity norms that appear influenced, in part, by respondents’ cultural conditioning. The implications of this for volunteer-involved organizations, volunteers, and locals are discussed.

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Does the Economic Decline of the West and the Rise of China Encourage NGO Crackdown?

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Laws restricting foreign funding to domestically operating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have proliferated in developing countries. This is puzzling because Western powers support the norm that NGOs are critical for democracy and development, recommend governments partner with NGOs, and sometimes use trade sanctions to encourage adherence to this norm. We examine whether rising trade with China influences the onset of NGO restrictions. China, which has emerged as an important export destination, articulates a different norm of state sovereignty over NGOs and does not sanction developing countries that enact restrictive NGO laws. Analysis of 153 developing countries from 2000 to 2015 finds that increasing exports to China may double the risk of NGO crackdown, but only when accompanied by declining exports to Western democracies. NGO scholars should recognize there are multiple norms about state-NGO relationship and that norm acceptance is influenced by the economic clout of the power that espouses a particular norm.

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Grassroots INGOs in Africa: Perspectives on What They Are (and Are Not?)

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This research explores philanthropic transfers and exchanges between and among the North and the South, namely, through grassroots international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), which tend to fall outside of the aid industry. The broad research question that frames this study is as follows: How do these organizations, grassroots INGOs in the global North and their partner organizations in the global South, represent and legitimize their work within the larger realm of development aid in Africa? The research conducts a comparative case study through the analysis of the narratives via organizational stories and artifacts produced and used by grassroots INGOs in the United States and partner organizations in Kenya. The findings show how grassroots INGOs distinguish themselves from what are the traditional images of global philanthropic exchanges and development aid, producing disassociative claims. The research derives a set of properties of grassroots INGOs to explain these perceived distinctions.

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Do Service Provision NGOs Perform Civil Society Functions? Evidence of NGOs’ Relationship With Democratic Participation

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Scholars have long been interested in the relationship between civil society and democracy. Today, international donors promote civil society in developing countries, and they explicitly define civil society to include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). It remains an open question, however, whether service provision NGOs in developing countries fulfill this civil society function. Some prominent scholarship argues that only NGOs that explicitly pursue advocacy perform civil society roles; service provision NGOs do not. I address this question, testing the relationship between individuals’ experience with, and perceptions of, NGOs and their political participation in voting, protests, and raising issues with public officials. Using data from Kenya, I find that individuals who report contact with, or positive views of, NGOs are more likely to engage in certain political activities, providing some evidence for the inclusion of NGOs in the concept of civil society. I theorize mechanisms by which service provision NGOs may affect various forms of participation.

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Reconciling Theory and Context in Comparative Nonprofit Research

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. The article reviews a family of multilevel models that can be used to build general theories of the nonprofit sector that are still sensitive to variations in context. The comparative study of the nonprofit (or nongovernmental) sector presents formidable challenges to social scientists who are attempting to advance theory on the sector. Ostensibly, the goal is to model and test theories that are generalizable. Yet, as scholars study topics such as volunteerism, donations, governance, management, advocacy, accountability, and the like in different political, economic, and cultural contexts, they often find different patterns across cases. After reviewing the issues and introducing the idea that time (or more specifically events) can be thought of as context as well, we present an analytical approach for doing comparative research using the framework of hierarchical linear modeling.

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The Role of Mediators in Diffusing the Community Foundation Model of Philanthropy

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. We examine the role of mediators in locally embedding the community foundation model of philanthropy to enable its global diffusion. We hold that mediators, as trusted agents within elite networks, promote and legitimate institutional innovation by tailoring the model to satisfy local requirements. They thereby limit resistance while creating future potentialities. Our novel addition to the community foundation literature stems from research on the transatlantic diffusion of the community foundation template from the United States to the United Kingdom focused on an in-depth case study of one of Europe’s largest community foundation, that serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland in North East England. Our findings suggest that success in embedding the community foundation model depends on rendering it fit-for-context and fit-for-purpose. Mediators operating at both the macro and micro level matter because they have the cultural, social, and symbolic capital needed to win acceptance for initially alien philanthropic principles, practices, and structures.

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Populism and Charity Donations: An Australian Case Study

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. The reasons why people donate to charities have been extensively researched, but how this behavior relates to political values is less well understood. We also know little about how the rise of populist values among the electorate will influence charitable giving in the future. Using a national election survey conducted in Australia in mid-2019, this article examines the influence of populist values on charity donations. The results show that populist values are strong predictors of charitable giving and that those who hold these values are significantly less likely to donate. Among those who do choose to donate, the choice of charity is also strongly influenced by populist values. These results demonstrate that the increasing importance of populist values among the public will have significant implications for the future level and direction of charity donations.

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Global Philanthropy: Does Institutional Context Matter for Charitable Giving?

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. In this article, we examine whether and how the institutional context matters when understanding individuals’ giving to philanthropic organizations. We posit that both the individuals’ propensity to give and the amounts given are higher in countries with a stronger institutional context for philanthropy. We examine key factors of formal and informal institutional contexts for philanthropy at both the organizational and societal levels, including regulatory and legislative frameworks, professional standards, and social practices. Our results show that while aggregate levels of giving are higher in countries with stronger institutionalization, multilevel analyses of 118,788 individuals in 19 countries show limited support for the hypothesized relationships between institutional context and philanthropy. The findings suggest the need for better comparative data to understand the complex and dynamic influences of institutional contexts on charitable giving. This, in turn, would support the development of evidence-based practices and policies in the field of global philanthropy.

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Governance Effectiveness: The Interaction of Ethno-Racial Diversity and Social Capital

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This research examines the relationship among Board Diversity, Social Capital, and Governance Effectiveness by asking, “does board ethno-racial diversity moderate the relationship between Social Capital and Governance Effectiveness, and if so, how?” Exploring the direct and interacting effects of demographic diversity and Social Capital, and their relation to governing-group effectiveness using a two-sample field survey design, we illustrate whether heterogeneous or homogeneous group compositions amplify or attenuate Governance Effectiveness, and to what degree. Primary analyses find no support for Board Diversity moderating the Social Capital-Governance Effectiveness relationship, with secondary analysis revealing a more complex interaction for Governance Effectiveness, albeit inconsistently, across samples. Our investigation points to the value of social resources in understanding governance as an inherently socially complex activity or capability, predicated on truce or mutual agreement and shaped by the composition and connections of boards.

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Motivations for Peer-Support Volunteering: Social Identities and Role-Identities as Sources of Motivation

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Motivations for volunteering described by functional theory are loosely related to the types and duration of these activities. The motivating effects of individuals’ social- and role-based identities may need inclusion. Identity theories suggest that entering a specific service activity depends on whether the service benefits a social group with which a person identifies, while persisting in the work depends on rewards and legitimation gained from the role-identity of “volunteer.” Former cardiac patients’ motivations for engaging in peer-support volunteering were explored (n = 84). Respondents’ primary motive for starting this work was to reduce current patients’ anxieties, suggesting identification with cardiac patients in general. Respondents viewed their “volunteer” role-identity as deeply rewarding, promoting long-term involvement. Identification with the sponsoring organization (Mended Hearts) supplied additional benefits, supporting continued involvement. Social- and role-identities help to explain the start and persistence of this type of volunteer work and likely influence other volunteer activities.

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In Search of Civil Society: Disentangling Associational Practices and Civil Society Conceptions in Germany

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. The historical case study of German associations during World War I highlights the limits of sociability in times of political polarization. At the war’s beginning, German elites supported political associations that welcomed the entire political spectrum, thus radically breaking with associations that had developed along political, social, and religious dividing lines. The article shows how the inclusive sociability that the common cause of the war initially spurred failed to withstand the pressures of mass politics, extreme sociopolitical fragmentation, and the new republican institutions. The discrediting of associations as sources of inclusive sociability paved the path to conscious efforts to educate German citizens and political professionals to the working of democratic systems. The analysis suggests a conceptualization of civil society that relies on explicit strategies, such as political education, to cultivate the political conduct that modern democracies require, replacing the faith in associations as indirect sources of democratic governance.

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Designing “National Day of Service” Projects to Promote Volunteer Job Satisfaction

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. National Day of Service (NDS) volunteering events have become common, yet little is known about how the design of such events affects volunteer satisfaction. This relationship is important because volunteer satisfaction ensures a strong volunteer base for special events and promotes sustained volunteerism. We explore how the design of NDS projects promotes volunteer job satisfaction. Our approach to the research question is informed by work design theory. Based on interview, participant observation, and focus-group data from an NDS in the Netherlands, the findings suggest that nonprofit organizations can elicit volunteer job satisfaction by designing NDS projects that create a sense of added value, support productivity, and make volunteers feel comfortable. Designing NDS projects that incorporate task significance, symbolic social support, feedback from others, beneficiary contact, task identity, project preparation, physically demanding work, social support, and limited autonomy help to achieve these goals.

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The Evolving Distribution of Giving in the United States

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. I compute the share of U.S. household giving accounted for by the American tax units donating the largest amounts over the 1960–2012 period from repeated cross-sectional samples of federal income tax returns. The share of donations accounted for by a minority of top donors rose sharply over this period. Donor concentration has risen both because the largest gifts have grown larger and because more households give little or nothing in any given year.

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Which Audiences Engage With Advocacy Groups on Twitter? Explaining the Online Engagement of Elite, Peer, and Mass Audiences With Advocacy Groups

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Gaining an audience on social media is an important goal of contemporary policy advocacy. While previous studies demonstrate that advocacy-dedicated nonprofit organizations—what we refer to as advocacy groups—use different social media tools, we still know little about what specific audiences advocacy groups set out to target on social media, and whether those audiences actually engage with these groups. This study fills this gap, deploying survey and digital trace data from Twitter over a 12-month period for the Australian case. We show that while groups target a variety of audiences online, there are differences between group types in their strategic objectives and the extent to which particular audiences engage with them. Business groups appear to target elite audiences more often compared with citizen and professional groups, whereas citizen groups receive more online engagement from mass and peer audiences.

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I Belong, Therefore, I Give? The Impact of Sense of Belonging on Graduate Student Alumni Engagement

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Although Sense of Belonging has long been an important construct in understanding student success in higher education, it has not been examined in the alumni context. In this article, we explore the association between graduate students’ Sense of Belonging and alumni engagement. We draw on an original data set (n = 1,601) that combines administrative records on alumni giving and data from a 2017 survey. Using multivariate analyses, we show that alumni with a stronger Sense of Belonging are more likely to give to their alma mater and to hold pro-philanthropic attitudes. Furthermore, Sense of Belonging is positively associated with other forms of alumni engagement and participation, including volunteering. Our findings highlight the need to examine the link between unintentional social interactions and alumni engagement and giving.

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Accruals Management to Avoid The Current Ratio Falling Below One: An Empirical Analysis Among Nonprofits

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study examines the distribution of the current ratio among large Belgian nonprofit organizations (NPOs). A current ratio falling below one signals (potential) liquidity problems among different types of stakeholders. Consistent with managerial intervention to avoid the current ratio falling below one, we observe significantly more (fewer) observations meeting or just exceeding (falling below) the threshold of one than would normally be expected. This discontinuity around one disappears when considering the distribution of the “pre-managed” current ratio (i.e., the current ratio corrected for abnormal working capital accruals). The latter observation is consistent with managerial intervention in the financial reporting process to avoid the current ratio falling below one. The aforementioned findings are supported by a multivariate regression model revealing significantly higher abnormal working capital accruals for observations having a current ratio equaling or exceeding one, but a pre-managed current ratio falling below one.

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The Relation Between Income and Donations as a Proportion of Income Revisited: Literature Review and Empirical Application

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Previous research addressing the relation between income and donations as a proportion of income has revealed predominantly inconsistent results. In this article, we argue that this can partly be explained by the great variance of methodological approaches. Providing a literature review covering 26 studies, we systematically identify how methodological issues such as data, variables, and methods have affected former findings. In addition, we apply different methodological approaches to Austrian income tax data (n = 20,000), demonstrating how different methods lead to a variation in results. Overall, we show that existing studies are hardly comparable as their designs vary strongly. We point out that it is particularly important to use samples with sufficient cases of all income groups and methods that adequately account for the non-linear relation between the two variables, not restricting it to a U-shape. Our findings enable a better understanding and interpretation of diverging findings in philanthropic research.

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Nonprofit Benchmarking With Data Envelopment Analysis

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Benchmarking nonprofit performance can be challenging, constraining the ways nonprofits can use operational data to learn from each other and highlight organizational progress. Valid output or outcome data are scarce, and there is much to learn about measuring performance even when these data are available. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) is a mathematical linear programming technique that can be used to measure performance in a way that not only produces valid efficiency scores but also allows for benchmarking nonprofits with similar service missions. Using financial and production data from the nonprofit transportation sector, we walk through an example to explore DEA as a tool to measure and benchmark nonprofits. We conclude with suggestions for practice, emphasizing that DEA is useful for stakeholders looking to benchmark nonprofits by underscoring production and performance.

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Dynamics of International Giving: How Heuristics Shape Individual Donor Preferences

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. State restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have become increasingly pervasive across the globe. Although this crackdown has been shown to have a negative impact on public funding flows, we know little about how it affects private philanthropy. How does information about crackdown abroad, as well as organizational attributes of nonprofits, affect individual donors’ willingness to donate internationally? Using a survey experiment, we find that learning about repressive NGO environments increases generosity in that already-likely donors are willing to donate substantially more to legally besieged nonprofits. This generosity persists when mediated by two organizational-level heuristics: NGO issue areas and main funding sources. We discuss the implications of our results on how nonprofits can use different framing appeals to increase fundraising at a time when traditional public donor funding to such organizations is decreasing.

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