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A Special Appeal from ARNOVA Member, Catherine E. Herrold

Posted By ARNOVA, Monday, December 28, 2015


The 2002 ARNOVA conference in Montreal catapulted my career.

It was my first time attending an ARNOVA event, and I knew practically no one.  I was attending as a spectator.  Only a few months into my new job at the Urban Institute, I had nothing to present.  But my colleagues raved about ARNOVA and my supervisors, Francie Ostrower and Elizabeth Boris, thought it might be worthwhile for me to attend the 31st Annual Conference. 

After the first day of sessions, which served as my introduction to the wide array of research on nonprofits and philanthropy, I stood awkwardly in the hotel lobby as ARNOVANs streamed out in groups for dinner.  Somehow, I found myself invited to join a group of scholars whom I would

later recognize as founders and leaders of the field.  You know their names: Dennis Young, Avner Ben-Ner, Gerhard Speckbacher, Mark Sidel, Steve Smith. 

They most certainly did not know my name, but they would soon become some of my most trusted mentors and strongest supporters.   They sent me their papers back in the days before online repositories, advised me on graduate schools, and read drafts of my dissertation.  They sat in on practice job talks, invited me to submit articles to their journals and even ensured that when I earned my doctorate I would join a cadre of talented, friendly, and enthusiastic assistant professors whom they had trained.

My story is not unique.  We all have stories about how ARNOVA – and especially ARNOVANs – enhanced our careers.  That’s why I’m asking for your help.

I never realized how much ARNOVA depends on member contributions and am embarrassed to admit that I had never thought about donating beyond my membership dues until this year.  For all my years spent studying civil society and philanthropic action, I overlooked the fact that I had a chance to support the best aspects of both right in front of me.  

When I made my donation this fall, I reasoned that while my contribution could never truly equal the impact ARNOVA has had on my career, it was nevertheless my responsibility as a member of this organization to do my part in helping it continue its vital work. 

Won’t you join me in making a gift so that ARNOVA can continue to create inclusive opportunities for fresh voices and emerging ideas in philanthropy?

The end of the year is a time for all of us to reconnect to our reasons for doing this work, a chance for us to remember why we got started on this path in the first place.  What motivates you to research nonprofit organizations, voluntary action, and philanthropy?  What drives you?

ARNOVA provides us with the space and freedom to present ideas and disseminate knowledge.  It encourages us to explore diverse perspectives.  When I share new ideas with ARNOVA colleagues, I know that no matter how embryonic my concept is, it will receive constructive and encouraging feedback. 

That’s what makes ARNOVA so special.  It urges us to build meaningful relationships and to weave together our strengths in order to make a positive impact on the world through our work. 

Support from fellow ARNOVANs has been one of the most critical forces shaping my career.  Since that 2002 conference, I have counted on the encouragement and advice of junior and senior ARNOVA scholars alike.  More advanced scholars have guided me through the challenges of research, publishing, teaching, and the politics of university life.  Fellow participants in programs such as the Doctoral Fellowship and the Emerging Scholars Program offer ongoing encouragement and friendship as we progress through our academic journeys together.

As of this fall, 1153 members representing hundreds of institutions, dozens of disciplines, and over 35 countries fill ARNOVA’s ranks.  Think what ARNOVA could accomplish if each of us pledged even five dollars to this annual campaign.  That would add up to over 5765 dollars.  That’s enough to provide another 23 travel grants that would allow 23 more members to attend our conference regardless of means.  Now think what could happen if we all pledged $25!  $100! 

I know we can’t all afford to commit to gifts at these levels, but I urge you to make a donation of whatever amount you can manage, even if that means only a dollar or two.  After all, isn’t support you receive from ARNOVA every year worth at least the price of a cup of coffee this holiday season?

Every contribution counts.  Every dollar makes a difference.

Remember, your donations are tax-deductible in the U.S. and can be made online by going to ARNOVA’s website at  Many members enjoy pledging their gifts in honor or memoriam of someone, and I encourage you to consider doing so by filling out the “donor comment” section of the donate page. 

No other membership organization in the country is doing what ARNOVA is doing, but these opportunities are only available with the help of ARNOVA members who provide crucial financial support for these opportunities and programs. 

Please join me.  Please make your gift today.

Thank you,                                                                   

Catherine E. Herrold, PhD

Catherine E. Herrold, PhD
Assistant Professor, Philanthropic Studies,
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Assistant Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs,
Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis

p.s. Looking to maximize your gift’s impact and provide true sustainability for ARNOVA?  Consider making your gift in the form of a monthly pledge by going online and selecting “Recurring Monthly Donation” or ask about opportunities for making planned gifts.


Make a gift to ARNOVA by returning the enclosed card with your gift or go to to make your gift online.  Thank you for your support!




For all my years spent studying civil society and philanthropic action, I overlooked the fact that I had a chance to support the best aspects of both right in front of me.


Catherine E. Herrold, PhD


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