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Nonprofits, Philanthropy & Government: Recap of the 2016 Annual Conference

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2016

The 45th Annual ARNOVA Conference in Washington, D.C. was the largest in our history.  Over 900 participants from 38 countries engaged in a wide variety of presentation sessions, plenary forums, events, and pre-Conference workshops.  More than 350 papers, 38 panels, and 60 colloquia were presented, covering a diverse array of topics representative of the multifaceted interests of members from around the world.  ARNOVA was proud to welcome 255 first-time attendees.


Conference Co-Chairs, Jennifer Mosley and David Suarez

2016 Conference Co-Chairs, Jennifer Mosley and David Suarez


This year’s theme, Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Government: Policy and Partnerships in an Era of Change, guided the spirit of our events and reminded us of the size, reach, and scope of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.  These ideas were present in the opening plenary, where Rob Reich discussed how foundations can play an important discovery role in democracy, and the closing plenary with Tim Delaney, Stacy Palmer, and Geoff Plague, where Alan Abramson moderated a panel that examined November election results and what they mean for nonprofits and philanthropy in the years to come.


This year, ARNOVA welcomed back the founders of the Association for Research on Civil Society in Africa (AROCSA) and hosted special evening receptions to celebrate our retirees and highlight section membership. For the first time, ARNOVA also hosted an undergraduate poster session, sponsored by American University School of Public Affairs.


Undergraduate Poster Session

Undergraduate Poster Session



Additionally, The Alliance for Nonprofit Management (ANM) held its conference in conjunction with the ARNOVA conference. The partnership included a forum organized by the ARNOVA Pracademics Section and ANM leadership on Research to Practice and a number of sessions organized by ANM at the ARNOVA conference. Sessions at the conference promoted effective practices in leadership transitions, racial equity, cross-sector collaborations, community engagement, and evaluation practices among many other conference topics.


Alliance for Nonprofit Management

Alliance for Nonprofit Management


As always, one highlight of the conference was the Awards Luncheon, where ARNOVA honored the best published work our field by presenting awards for the best recent books, for articles in NVSQ, and for the best recent dissertation.


ARNOVA Distinguished Achievement in Leadership and Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research Award

Thomasina Borkman, George Mason University


RGK-ARNOVA President’s Award

Kelly LeRoux, University of Illinois at Chicago, “Racial Diversity and Organizational Performance in the U.S. Nonprofit Sector


Peter Dobkin Hall History

Amanda Moniz, National History Center, “From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism”


Virginia Hodgkinson Research Book Prize

Pamala Wiepking, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Femida Handy, University of Pennsylvania, “Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy


Outstanding Book Award in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research

Richard L. Wood, University of New Mexico, and Brad R. Fulton, Indiana University, “A Shared Future: Faith-Based Organizing for Racial Equity and Ethical Democracy

Gabriel G. Rudney Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research

Tyrone M. Freeman, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, “Gospel of Giving: The Philanthropy of Madam CJ Walker (1867-1919)


University of Maryland Do Good Institute-ARNOVA Global Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Award

Helmut K. Anheier, Hertie School of Governance


NVSQ Best Article Award

Lehn Benjamin, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and David Campbell, University of California Davis, “Nonprofit Performance: Accounting for the Agency of Clients - NVSQ, 44(5)”


Best Paper Award from 2015 ARNOVA Conference

Beth Gazley, Indiana University, and Chao Guo, University of Pennsylvania, “What Do We Know About Nonprofit Collaboration? A Comprehensive Systematic Review of the Literature




Alan Abramson and Thomasina Borkman

Alan Abramson, President of ARNOVA, and Thomasina Borkman


The highlight of the Awards Luncheon every year is the presentation of the Distinguished Achievement and Leadership Award, which this year went to Thomasina Borkman of George Mason University (view her acceptance remarks here).  This luncheon, as well as the many receptions and sessions throughout the conference, were made possible by a number of generous sponsors.


Institutional Host Sponsors

American University School of Public Affairs

Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University

George Mason University Schar School of Policy

The George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

James Madison University School of Strategic Leadership Studies

University of Baltimore College of Public Affairs

University of Maryland School of Public Policy

The Urban Institute Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Virginia Tech School of Public & International Affairs

Zakat Foundation of America

Conference Sponsors

ASAE Center

Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College

Columbia University School of Professional Studies

Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

SAGE Publications

School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University Bloomington

School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business




Considering this year’s thematic focus on nonprofits, philanthropy, and government, it was fitting that our Conference was hosted in the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, D.C.  Members stayed just moments away from popular attractions including the White House, Smithsonian Museums, the National Mall, government centers and more. Conference evaluations continue to arrive, and we are pleased by positive feedback regarding this year’s program, presentations, and overall content.  We appreciate your remarks and strive to address your suggestions for continued improvement overall.



Next November 16-18th, ARNOVA will host its 46th Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.  The Conference Planning Committee is now actively engaged in its work, and members with suggestions for the program are invited to send those to next year’s co-chairs, Jennifer Mosley and Mary Kay Gugerty.  The local arrangements committee will be co-chaired by Teri Behrens, Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University and Michelle Wooddell, Grand Valley State University. We expect a great turnout in 2017 and look forward to another exciting gathering filled with opportunities for meaningful discussion and collaboration.


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