#ARNOVA15 Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois

I figured I had better update my blog for all those who try to find it after the ARNOVA conference this past weekend. I actually meant to post this prior to the conference but well what can I say other than life seems to be super busy right now.

ARNOVA stands for the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action. It’s a great group of practitioners, students, and academics that are focused on all things nonprofit. I was part of two different presentations related to using technology in education. The first was a colloquium where I had 5 minutes (I know right only 5 minutes) to talk about engaging students in the digital world. I borrowed heavily from my work and previous writings on this subject as they relate to social work education. More information here. But it was actually a lot of fun to have such a short amount of time to get to the point before the gong. Yes there was actually a gong sound that would indicate your time was up.

The other presentation was related to some of my work on increasing digital literacies among students. I have written about this topic as well here on my blog but it was fun to take a unique nonprofit education perspective on the topic and I think the attendees enjoyed it as well. Here are the slides from that presentation.

 

 

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Successful Nonprofit Board Governance. Resources and Research.

Building off the steam generated on the ARNOVA listserv several days ago with the question about Why Nonprofits Fail? I decided to ask the List for research and resources related to successful nonprofit board governance. My question was “What are some of the quintessential pieces on board governance or getting the board successfully involved in the organization?” The list responded with some great resources, which I have compiled below. They are presented in random order as they came into my email inbox šŸ˜€

 

Again, I understand that there is a lot of research out there on successful board governance so this list is in no way comprehensive. It may offer a good starting point or not, but I hope that it is helpful. I know as a member of a nonprofit board that I will be looking into these resources to help my organization (and board) become more successful in the future.

 

Why Do Nonprofits Fail?

One of the other jobs I perform is as a volunter for the ARNOVA Listserv. I act as a facilitator to help others with subscribing, unsubscribing, and posting to the list. Currently, the list has over 1,500 different Nonprofit and Voluntary Organization related individuals, professionals, scholars, and students. It is a great community that I would encourage you to become part of if you are interested in Nonprofit Organizations. The other day Jessica Sowa from the University of Colorado Denver posted a question on behalf of a student. The student was interested in quintessential research on Why Nonprofits Fail. The List responded with some amazing resources that I thought I would share here for anyone interested in the Nonprofit and Voluntary sector. The list may not be comprehensive and as some pointed out on the List, the question about why Nonprofits Fail is fairly broad. Therefore, what follows may or may not answer the question. However, I think provides a great example of how a community of individuals can help shed light on a particular issue. The references may not be complete (as in ready for a Reference list or Bibliography, or even in alphabetical order), but I hope you find this helpful.

  • Hager, M. A., Galaskiewicz, J., & Larson, J. A. (2004). Structural embeddedness and the liability of newness among nonprofit organizations. Public Management Review, 6(2), 159-188.
  • Mark A. Hager. 1999. Explaining Demise Among Nonprofit Organizations. Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, Department of Sociology. Ā Ā 
  • Beth M. Duckles, Mark A. Hager and Joseph Galaskiewicz. 2005. “How Nonprofits Close: Using Narratives to Study Organizational Processes.” Pp. 169-203 (chapter 7) in Qualitative Organizational Research, edited by K.D. Elsbach. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing. Ā 
  • Mark A. Hager. 2001. “Financial Vulnerability among Arts Organizations: A Test of the Tuckman-Chang Measures.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 30(2): 376-392.
  • Mark A. Hager, Joel J. Pins and Cheryl A. Jorgensen. 1997. “Unto Thy Maker: The Fate of Church-Based Nonprofit Clinics in a Turbulent Health Care Environment.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 26(Supplement): S85-S100.
  • Mark Hager, Joseph Galaskiewicz, Wolfgang Bielefeld and Joel Pins. 1996. “Tales From the Grave: Organizations’ Accounts of their Own Demise.” American Behavioral Scientist 39(8): 975-994.
  • Keating, EK.,Ā Fischer, M.,Ā Gordon, TP., &Ā Greenlee, J. (2005) Ā Assessing Financial Vulnerability in the Nonprofit Sector Ā Ā https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/getFile.aspx?Id=151
  • Lecy JD. &Ā Van Slyke DM.Ā (2013),Nonprofit Sector Growth and Density: Testing Theories of Government Support J Public Adm Res Theory Ā 23 (1): 189-214.
  • Joe Galaskiewicz and Wolf Bielefeld’s Nonprofit Organizations in an Age of Uncertainty is really the classic study. Ā Mark, Joe and Wolf’s “Tales from the Grave” article in a special American Behavioral Scientist issue on organizational failure (8/96) is close to quintessential. The volume, edited by Helmut Anheier, also has takes by other leading sociologists on org failure in general.
  • The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing ‘Nonprofit Organizations’ to Create the Future of Our World.Ā  You can find those 4 chapters online here http://pollyannaprinciples.org/info/read-part-1/
  • Seibel, Wolfgang (1996): Successful Failure: An Alternative View on Organizational Coping. In: American Behavioral Scientist 39 (8), pp. 1011-1024.
  • Meyer, Marshall W.; Zucker, Lynne G. (1989): Permanently Failing Organizations. London: Sage.
  • Hall, P. D. (1999). Vital Signs: Organizational Population Trends and Civic Engagement in New Haven, Connecticut, 1850-1998. Civic engagement in American democracy. T. Skocpol and M. P. Fiorina. Washington, D.C.; New York, Brookings Institution Press ; Russell Sage Foundation: 211-248.
  • King, W. I. and K. E. Huntley (1928). Trends in philanthropy; a study in a typical American city. New York, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Kingma, B. R. (1993). “Portfolio Theory and Nonprofit Financial Stability.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 22(2): 105-119.
  • Chang, C. F. and H. P. Tuckman (1991). “Financial Vulnerability and Attrition as Measures of Nonprofit Performance.” Annals of Public & Cooperative Economics 62(4): 655.
  • Tuckman, H. P. and C. F. Chang (1991). “A Methodology for Measuring the Financial Vulnerability of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 20(4): 445-460.
  • Foster, W., B. Dixon, et al. (2003). Funding: Patterns and Guideposts in the Nonprofit Sector. Boston, MA, Bridgespan: 24.
  • Foster, W. and G. Fine (2007). “How Nonprofits Get Really Big.” Stanford Social Innovation Review 5(2).
  • Kim, P. and J. Bradach (2012). “Why More Nonprofits Are Getting Bigger.” Stanford Social Innovation Review 10(2): 15-16.
  • Chikoto, G. L. and D. G. Neely (2013). “Building Nonprofit Financial Capacity: The Impact of Revenue Concentration and Overhead Costs.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
  • Tuckman, H.P., and C.F. Chang. 1991. “A methodology forĀ measuring the financial vulnerability of charitable nonprofit organizations.”Ā Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly no. 20 (4):445-460.

So again, the list is not comprehensive, but I know when doing research it is always good to have a place to start. Best of luck in your research and feel free to share any other resources that you find.

My Problem with the 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report

Well I guess that something had to ignite the fire enough within me to finally come back and write a blog post again in the midst of dissertating. I’m nearly done with the dissertation and plan to post many results here on my blog. This is also the reason for this post, or the fact that NTEN/ Blackbaud/ Common Knowledge just released their 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report. There is a wonderful Infographic, which sums up the report nicely and the link will also help you download the full report.

I have to say that the information is great. I am so glad that this data is being compiled and I have built a survey instrument using similar questions to these folks for my dissertation. I also compiled my data during the same time period, but with a much smaller sample that was focused on Nonprofit Human Service Organizations. I focus on these unique organizations because of their important roles in society and NO research has looked at how they use social media.

The Benchmark report and my dissertation have many things in common. This makes me smile because it indicates that my findings are generalizable. However, I do have some problems with the recent Report. The main problem is around their methodology. I understand they only solicited and primarily reported descriptive data, but they do not explain this in the report. They have a small section on their methods but nothing beyond that. This is critically important because of how the data is being used in practice. For all we know, the methods they used could be based upon incorrect statistical principles which would nullify all of the findings. I don’t think this has happened, but in a sector which promotes transparency I would think they would have no problem in divulging their methodology.

This is also important considering the new statistic they are reporting around the cost of a follower on Twitter and a Like on Facebook. They indicate that these numbers are based upon self-report and that respondents have different ways of calculating this cost. I would be extremely cautious when looking at this statistic and thinking about basing some budget decisions around this because there is no clear indication of how the number was developed. It is a good statistic, just not one I am very confident in.

I am defending my dissertation in a little over a week and will likely begin to disseminate my own findings after that date. This is mostly to help the community where I collected my data, but it will also help many other nonprofit human service organizations think about their own social media strategies, planning, and implementation.

Conceptual Framework

I just tweeted that I would write this blog update and so I thought I better get it done now or I might forget about it. So I wrote a paper for a doctoral seminar last year that I have decided to come back to, tweak, and try to submit for publication. The paper is about organizational identity and the use of social media to manage/maintain that identity. In short I have done some research and I continue to see from the blogosphere that many nonprofit organizations use or are trying to use social media for a host of different things. I have always wondered if any of these organizations, and some have, ever took the time to think critically about the organization’s identity and how that will take shape in the social media environment?

The paper I wrote is more of a conceptual paper and I am having trouble flushing out my framework. Here is a Rough draft of my framework with the concepts/ideas I plan on using. Conceptual Framework SM NPO Identity

I am basing the framework in Identity Formation theory, using a bit of symbolic interactionism, and calling for nonprofit organizations to critically think about three areas as they utilize social media. Those areas are Transparency, Accountability, and Authenticity. But I also don’t want to neglect the whole point about interaction, as this is crucial both in the use of social media, and in how image/identity is constructed. So I hope you take a minute to provide some input as I try to untangle my brain and provide something useful for nonprofit administrators to use.
Thanks.

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