Tag Archives: volunteer

Uncovering Local Knowledge in Grassroots Associations: An Illustration of the Critical Reflexive Approach

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Grassroots associations (GAs) are the “keepers” of collective local knowledge yet uncovering that local knowledge remains challenging for nonprofit researchers. In this study, we propose the utility of reflexivity for nonprofit scholars conducting research aimed at accessing local knowledge within GAs and illustrate its use in practice through collaborative autoethnography (CAE). From block clubs to mutual aid groups, grassroots associations provide a space for members to come together, share insights, build community, and are important repositories of local knowledge. However, GAs remain the “dark matter” of the nonprofit sector—understudied and undertheorized. We discuss the difficulties nonprofit researchers face in accessing the local knowledge of resident within grassroots associations. We then present our CAE methodology and conclude by recommending that scholars interested in accessing local knowledge engage in reflexive praxis attuned to power and positionality. This study contributes to expanding our work with and knowledge of grassroots associations within nonprofit studies.

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How High Is Too High? An Experimental Analysis of Donors’ Aversion to Nonprofit Overhead

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Despite the abundance of literature related to nonprofit overhead, the following questions remain unclear: (a) How high is too high for individual donors when considering an organization’s overhead? (b) Is there a difference between nonprofit subsectors in individual donors’ aversion to nonprofit overhead? Moreover, (c) Does trust play a role in individual donors’ overhead aversion? This study used a survey experiment and randomly assigned participants to one of four overhead ratio conditions (5%, 20%, 35%, and 50%). We find that individuals’ donations to human service nonprofits substantially decrease when the overhead reaches 35%. In contrast, their donations to health care nonprofits do not decrease until the ratio reaches 50%. In addition, we find that donors lose trust in nonprofits when overhead costs are higher, leading to decreased donations. The findings contribute to the theoretical understanding of donors’ giving behavior, offering practical implications for promoting sustainable giving.

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Leading Volunteers Effectively: Development and Preliminary Validation of the Volunteer Leader Behavior Scale

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Volunteers are integral to civic and social life, and leadership is integral to keeping volunteers satisfied and committed. However, volunteer leadership research is hindered by the dispersion of leadership theories and the absence of a specialized leader behavior assessment tool. To address this, we developed and validated a four-dimensional scale for evaluating the behaviors of leaders of volunteers. Using confirmatory factor analyses, we confirmed a four-factor, hierarchical model in an Australian emergency volunteer sample. Concurrent validity was confirmed in relation to satisfaction with leadership, overall satisfaction with volunteering experience, and affective organizational commitment. Further details of quantitative studies for scale evaluation are provided. This study provides researchers and practitioners with a valid and reliable instrument to assess different aspects of effective leader behaviors within the volunteering context. Implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.

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How Can Nonprofit Policy Advocacy Influence Policymakers? A Factorial Survey Experiment on the Effects of Nonprofit Advocacy Strategies on Policymakers’ Willingness to Act

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study investigates how policy advocacy strategies employed by nonprofit organizations (NPOs) affect the willingness of policymakers to act upon policy inputs. In a 2 × 2 full-factorial research experiment, we presented 706 Flemish municipal policymakers with four realistic scenarios describing an advocacy campaign of a local welfare nonprofit. In the scenarios, we apply two modes of advocacy tactics (direct or indirect) and two modes of NPO representation (professional staff members or self-advocates). The findings indicate a high likeliness to act on NPO policy inputs throughout the policy process, albeit with a small drop during the formulation stage. Small but significant increases in likeliness to act are noted when policymakers are confronted with either direct advocacy tactics or professional advocates.

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Attention-Seeking Strategies: An Investigation of Sexual Assault Organizations’ Communication Tactics on Twitter

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study examines the attention-seeking strategies of sexual assault organizations on Twitter in Canada, exploring the factors influencing the level of attention received. Drawing on the foundation work of Guo and Saxon’s four-factor explanatory model, the research extends and refines the model by incorporating new factors, including Covid-related content, network size, intended audience, direct services, donations, and visual content. The study’s methodology involved sampling 124 sexual assault and rape crisis centers in Canada, collecting Twitter data (n = 320,836 Tweets up to April 2023), and employing ordinary least squares and fixed effect regression analysis. Results showed significant relationships between these factors and attention received, providing insights for both theoretical understanding and practical guidance.

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An Invisible Impediment to Progress: Perceptions of Racialization in the Nonprofit Sector

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Popular beliefs about the nonprofit sector suggest it as a place devoted to the public good on behalf of disadvantaged individuals and groups. This dominant view implies an organization’s success or failure as the result of individual decision-making, capacity issues, or inability to behave like successful organizations. This fuels a view of the sector as race-neutral where all organizations encounter the same challenges and in the same ways. In this article, I use interview data from a 2-year qualitative study of Black-led organizations in Madison, Wisconsin to examine how Black-led organizations perceive racialization in the sector and its impact on their work. Findings suggest that Black-led organizations perceive racialization in the sector across key areas understood as central to an organization’s operation: leadership, funding, data, collaboration, and volunteering. I conclude by calling for a more robust theory of racialization in the nonprofit sector that might vary by place.

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Nonprofit Human Resources: Crisis Impacts and Mitigation Strategies

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study empirically evaluates the relationships between the state and human service nonprofits’ human resources during a crisis. We employ qualitative content analysis to critically assess the experiences of 31 nonprofits that experienced the 2015 to 2017 Illinois Budget Impasse. We evaluated the nonprofits’ strategic human resource management implications through a resource dependency lens at three levels: micro-, meso-, and macro-. Human service nonprofits pull from a toolbox of strategies in surprising ways. Strategy choices were intrinsically linked to the impacts experienced by the individual workers (micro-) and organization (meso-). Micro-level impacts included additional emotional labor and reduced benefits, while meso-level impacts included loss of capacity and short-term planning changes. Finally, the sector-level impacts included a multipronged brain drain of the nonprofit human resource industry. The findings are helpful for nonprofit employees, managers, policy-makers, and anyone concerned about the delivery of social services by nonprofits during crises.

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Why Neighbors Would Help: A Vignette Experiment on Reciprocity in Informal Helping

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Reciprocity in informal helping, or informal volunteering, is often seen as a way to ensure that people who are not altruistically motivated exchange help. Yet, it could be problematic for those who are unable to help, as they would be excluded from this exchange. We study to what extent people’s reciprocity expectations affect informal helping intentions and whether necessity of helping and perceived helpfulness (indirect reciprocity) compensate and moderate this relationship. Expectations are tested with a factorial survey conducted among the Longitudinal Internet studies for the Social Sciences panel (N vignettes = 3,299). Multilevel regression analyses show that people have stronger intentions to help those who are likely to reciprocate but that a strong need for help and having helped others in the past are more important reasons to help. Furthermore, the effect of likelihood of reciprocity on informal helping intentions is stronger for neighbors who never helped others. Policy implications of these results are discussed.

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Societal Roles of Nonprofit Organizations: Parsonian Echoes and Luhmannian Reframing of the Organization–Society Interface

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have long been recognized as playing vital roles in society. Nevertheless, a coherent understanding of how these roles align with broader social theory, and how to conceptualize the interface between nonprofits and society is still lacking. In pursuit of a solid theoretical foundation, we conducted a systematic literature review encompassing 119 publications spanning from 1959 to 2021 that delve into the societal roles of NPOs. We reason that much of prior research has implicitly adhered to a functionalist perspective akin to that proposed by Talcott Parsons nearly seven decades ago. Our review identifies four overarching societal roles fulfilled by NPOs: service delivery, advocacy, integration, and the development of cultural patterns. Recognizing the limitations of Parsonian functionalism, we advocate for a shift toward a neo-functionalist, systems-theoretical framing to allow for an analysis of societal functions that is more sensitive to the heterogeneity and contradictions pervasive in contemporary society.

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Baby Boomers and Their Voluntary Engagement: A Cohort Comparison Among the Middle-Aged and Older Population in Germany

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. The aim of this study is to compare the levels of volunteering by German baby boomers, who are currently in their fifties and sixties, to cohorts born earlier. Using data from the German Aging Survey (DEAS), logistic and negative binomial regressions were employed to analyze the prevalence and time contributions that baby boomers invest in volunteering. The study indicates a higher prevalence of volunteering by baby boomers compared with earlier-born cohorts and suggests that the large size of this cohort will imply high levels of volunteering that could increase even further as the cohort approaches retirement. Moreover, our findings suggest stability in voluntary time contributions by baby boomers compared with earlier-born cohorts; this contrasts with the existing research showing decreased overall time contributions to volunteering. The study underscores the importance of considering cohort-specific differences in voluntary engagement behavior to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of volunteering.

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Fluid Forms of Organizing Volunteering: Producing Civic Action Through Organizational Maintenance

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This article explores the evolving nature of volunteering in fluid forms of organizing and their potential for civic action. While previous research suggests that highly individualized volunteering can undermine collectivity and disconnect tasks from change-oriented goals, thus diminishing its civic character, this study employs Lichterman and Eliasoph’s conceptual framework of civic action and Dewey’s concept of ends-in-view to demonstrate how civic action arises in fluid forms of organizing through the ongoing coordination of organizational maintenance. Drawing on an 18-month ethnographic study of female breakers aiming to improve women’s access to a male-dominated street dance scene, we find that fluid organizing produces a distinct form of volunteering that invigorates a collective and change-oriented endeavor. Our findings highlight the importance of understanding and investigating new contexts and forms of volunteering to shed new light on contemporary volunteerism, its multifaceted nature, and its potential to mobilize collective efforts for societal change.

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Achieving Organizationality in Large-Scale Crises: A Comparative Case Study on the Communicative Constitution of Spontaneous Volunteer Collectives

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Many large-scale crises require rapid responses from spontaneous volunteers (SVs). The more effective the way in which volunteers develop organizationality, the better they are able to coordinate individual activities, and the better they can cope with demands imposed by a disaster. However, we currently know too little about how SV collectives emerge and develop organizationality in the context of crises. We, therefore, explore organizationality’s emerging phases and determinants by grounding our study on the “communication constitutes organizations” research stream, that is, the four flows (4 F) model. In our qualitative analysis based on semi-structured interviews, as well as (social) media data from five large-scale crises in Germany, we identify the role of space, symbols, and support (3 S), and their effects as enablers of legitimacy and collective identity. By complementing the 4 F model, we contribute to “communication constitutes organizations” research and draw implications for managing loose SV collectives in practice.

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Spatial Patterns of Nonprofit Founding: Toward a Local Ecology

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Nonprofit organizations are vital to the implementation of social policy and provide myriad benefits to those nearby, yet few studies consider founding patterns in small areas. Conceptualizing ecological processes at the local level and in the context of developmental regimes, this article investigates nonprofit founding events among neighborhoods with a unique data set aggregated by census tract from 2010 to 2016 in one northeast Ohio county (United States) using a hierarchical Bayesian model. The results broadly support the density dependence hypothesis, however, suggest high density is required to reduce founding rates in small areas. The results indicate nonprofit founding rates are lower in tracts with higher levels of economic disadvantage and higher shares of Latino residents. The paper calls for further research into nonprofit population dynamics among small areas and for policymakers to closely consider nonprofit founding events, as founding determines the future of a region’s nonprofit infrastructure.

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The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle: The Extent of Overhead Ratios’ Manipulation, Distrust, and Ramifications

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. While little evidence supports the notion that financially responsible nonprofits must maintain low overhead ratios, the persistent preference for reduced overhead costs endures. Our study explores (a) the extent of underreporting behaviors, (b) the level of trust (or distrust) that nonprofit leaders have in overhead ratio reports, and (c) the motivations perceived by managers that drive nonprofits to adjust their overhead ratios and the resulting consequences. Experiment results from the “item sum double-list technique” (ISDLT) reveal that nonprofit managers may artificially lower their overhead ratios by approximately 10 percentage points, a range spanning from 7 to 16 percentage points. This adjustment aims to enhance their competitiveness in the funding market. Our vignette-based experiment uncovers significant trust issues related to reported low overhead ratios, potentially indicating accounting manipulation within the field. Complemented by open-ended survey responses from nonprofit managers, our research offers valuable insights into this domain.

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Sharing Evaluation Information to Strengthen Nonprofit Accountability: The Influence of Learning and Data Utilization Practices

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. This study examines the role of learning and evaluation data utilization in nonprofit accountability practices. Survey data of 243 nonprofit managers were used to assess the pathway between learning environments and practices to evaluation data utilization and the subsequent sharing of evaluation information. Results from partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) indicate that supportive learning environments, where nonprofit managers and staff engage in learning practices, can facilitate data utilization for internal decision-making, thereby resulting in stronger linkages to sharing evaluation information. Our research suggests the need for intentional strategies around learning and data cultures in nonprofits, as nonprofit managers serve as the linchpin to internal accountability through using evaluation results to inform decisions, assess progress, improve programs, and train staff. Our research contributes to the nonprofit literature by showing how the combination of learning environments and practices serve as drivers for data-driven decision-making, which in turn improves nonprofit accountability practices.

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Designing Effective Volunteering Appeals: Results of Choice-Based Conjoint and Latent Class Segmentation Analyses

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Volunteers represent an important resource for nonprofit organizations. The competition for volunteers is rising, increasing the pressure to optimize volunteer recruiting. One way to recruit volunteers is the use of volunteering appeals. To help optimize such volunteering appeals, we conducted two conjoint studies to identify the importance of design attributes of volunteering appeals as well as the utilities of the different attribute levels for potential volunteers by using choice-based conjoint analysis. The conjoint analyses are based on two student samples. We provide a segmentation of volunteers, allowing nonprofit organizations to design volunteering appeals according to specific target groups.

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The Relation Between Perceived Racial Discrimination and Civic Engagement Among People of Asian Descent

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Although people of Asian descent are the fastest-growing ethno-racial group in the United States, there has been limited research on how racialized experiences are related to their civic engagement behaviors. This study examines how perceived racial discrimination relates to political and community civic engagement among people of Asian descent living in California. Analyzing novel data from the 2021 California Health Interview Survey, we find that after the onset of COVID-19 people of Asian descent showed both the sharpest rise in perceived racial discrimination and the lowest level of civic engagement among all ethno-racial groups in California. Moreover, perceived racial discrimination was significantly associated with political engagement but not with community engagement among people of Asian descent. Finally, people of Asian descent showed some unique dynamics in comparison with other minoritized groups. We discuss the implications of these findings for nonprofit and voluntary sector research on the racialization of civic engagement.

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