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Letter from the President

Posted By Mary Tschirhart, Wednesday, December 27, 2017



Dear ARNOVA Members,


I am happy to report that it has been a year of accomplishments for ARNOVA. Not only did we have the greatest attendance ever at a conference, we advanced the mission of ARNOVA through new and enhanced programming and services to members. We supported member-led initiatives and added opportunities for member involvement. Here’s a list of just a few of the highlights of the year. 

  • The board approved a strategic plan in which diversity and inclusion are front and center. We are engaged in ongoing conversations to enhance our understanding of our diverse members so that we can continue to inform the plan and guide its implementation. This includes but is not limited to the membership survey which many of you completed. 
  • We added new awards and conference scholarships to our suite of resources for members, with gratitude to our donors for providing the funding for this. For example, this year we launched the Undergraduate Diversity Scholars Program with the purpose of further encouraging a pipeline of nonprofit research from underrepresented groups. 
  • As part of our initiative to improve our policy manual and the transparency of our procedures, we are in the process of redesigning our award processes and award committee structure. The manual revision helps ensure wide membership participation in award and other decisions and presents new avenues for volunteering.     
  • We welcomed a new section, more common interest groups, and a new conference track to our mix. For example, we now have the Public Policy, Politics and Law Section and a new track on civil society. 
  • We offered our first ever ARNOVA-Asia conference and its very apparent popularity led us to begin planning a 2018 conference in Hong Kong.     
  • We worked with the Association for Research on Civil Society in Africa (AROCSA) on an ARNOVA-Africa conference in South Africa and were pleased to see how much AROCSA has grown in its short time as an association. Next year’s conference is in Cairo and I hope to see some of you there.   
  • All our ongoing and new partnerships continue to bring benefits to members. For example, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s presence at our conference complemented our ARNOVA sessions discussing research to practice and vice versa. Our 2017 collaboration with Independent Sector brought our Symposium on Public Policy and Nonprofits to new audiences. 
  • The membership approved a code of ethics which lays out our association’s values and practices. Inspired by the code, and the suggestions of our Diversity Committee, we sought to make the conference more inclusive. For example, we provided gender neutral bathrooms and pronoun ribbons and are reviewing member feedback and suggestions to find more ways to support all our members as they participate in ARNOVA activities. We have some member feedback on our Austin location and will be reporting to you on our plans for that conference. 
  • NVSQ continues to be a top-ranked journal with 2017 bringing a higher impact factor and new initiatives from our editorial team to enhance its features and reach. Thank you Chao, Susan and Angela and the many others who contribute to NVSQ’s high quality. 


We had some important changes in our leadership this year. Shariq Siddiqui, our intrepid executive director, led a staff reorganization that resulted in hiring two new staff members, Holly Titus as our first ever associate director and Gloria Worstell as the new membership secretary. The membership chose a president-elect who will succeed me at the end of the 2018 conference, Angela Eikenberry, and a new treasurer, Thad Calabrese; both have now joined our hard-working board. As their terms ended, we had to say goodbye and give our thanks for their valued service to Alan Abramson and Dwight Burlingame.         


None of this year’s accomplishments would have been possible without the engagement of our individual and institutional members and supporters. We have had amazing volunteer and financial support this year. Shariq and his staff’s dedication to bringing all our energy and ideas together has been critical to our successes. I look forward to working with all of you in the year to come.


Wishing you a very happy holiday season and New Year,


Mary Tschirhart, The Ohio State University

ARNOVA President 

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ARNOVA Visits Grand Rapids, Michigan

Posted By , Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2017



We look forward to hosting you at the 46th Annual ARNOVA Conference held in Grand Rapids, Michigan this year!

There are many fun and exciting things to do and see in Grand Rapids including:


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Grand rapids Children’s Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum

Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts

• And many more!



Lighthouses: Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state - and many of them line the Lake Michigan coast, just a short drive from Grand Rapids



Other Activities

• John Ball Zoo

• Downtown Market

• Gun Lake Casino


If you are looking for things to do within walking distance of the hotel, there are many different options!


While the conference does take place in the winter, there are still many fun things to do in Grand Rapids, including:

• Fishing

• Ice Skating

• Sledding

• Skiing

Indoor Market 


Be sure to book your conference hotel at the discounted ARNOVA Conference rate before they sell out! For more information on traveling to/throughout Grand Rapids, click here




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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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A Special Appeal from ARNOVA Member, Lindsey McDougle

Posted By ARNOVA, Monday, December 12, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dear members,


I am writing to request your support of ARNOVA through a tax-deductible contribution. Your contribution provides ARNOVA with the resources to fund travel scholarships and support emerging scholars.

I joined ARNOVA nearly a decade ago as a doctoral student; and, in that decade, ARNOVA has been one of (if not the) most influential professional organizations that has helped to shape my academic and professional career. 

Not only have I presented at the annual ARNOVA conference every year since I joined the organization, but I have also had an opportunity to serve the organization in numerous ways. For example: 

• I currently serve as an incoming member of the ARNOVA board of directors, 
• I was a member of the ARNOVA Research Committee (three times); 
• I was a member of the ARNOVA Conference Planning Committee in 2010; 
• I was a member of the ARNOVA Best Article Award committee in 2015; and, 
• I served as, both, chair and co-chair for the ARNOVA Boards and Governance Conference track in 2015 and 2016.

All of these service opportunities have provided me with insights into ARNOVA that I likely would never have gained had I not gotten involved with the organization. From learning more about the efforts that go into planning each annual conference to understanding the level of detail that goes into reviewing each article submitted for a “Best Article Award,” these opportunities have provided me with first-hand knowledge of just how important—and, indeed, how needed—ARNOVA is within the scholarly community. All of these experiences have been professionally rewarding and have, undoubtedly, helped to shape my career trajectory as a researcher and an academic.

But, more so than these service opportunities, the networking and scholarship opportunities that ARNOVA has provided me with have been, hands down, transformative. 

I’ll provide two examples of just what I mean. 

The first example relates to how networking opportunities at the annual ARNOVA conference have helped to further my career. 

At the 2008 ARNOVA conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (US), I attended a session where Dr. Femida Handy was presenting a paper. The paper generated much discussion; and, after the presentation I informed Dr. Handy that I had just delivered a presentation on a related topic in a previous session. Dr. Handy and I spent a good half an hour that day discussing our perspectives on the issue, and we kept in touch after this first meeting. Two years (and several e-mails) later, Dr. Handy invited me to apply for the University of Pennsylvania’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program through the University’s Provosts Office. I agreed to apply; and was accepted into the program. 

Had it not been for ARNOVA, I would likely have not received this opportunity. Networking opportunities like this are critical and can help to develop the careers of students and junior scholars. Ultimately, these opportunities can lead to collaborations with other ARNOVA members that can expand knowledge in the field and impact career success.

The second example relates to how ARNOVA scholarships have helped me to pursue a line of research that I am absolutely passionate about. 

At the 2010 ARNOVA conference in Washington, DC (US), I was awarded an ARNOVA emerging scholar award.

As a researcher, most of what I focus on explores how philanthropy can be utilized to address (and even overcome) social inequities in society; and, one of the ways that I’m currently exploring this is through an innovative new teaching strategy—known as experiential philanthropy. Experiential philanthropy teaches students about philanthropy and about how philanthropy can be used to address social problems within their communities. Students are then able to act as a philanthropic funding agent on behalf of their community.

Not only have ARNOVA scholarships, like the emerging scholar award, allowed me the opportunity to engage in this kind of work (by being able to present my research and receive quality and constructive feedback), but these scholarships have also allowed me an opportunity to expose a new generation of students to the study philanthropy—enabling them to explore the role that philanthropy plays in society. 

Without an ARNOVA emerging scholar award, I likely would not have had the opportunity to attend the annual conference; and, had I not attended, I would not have received the kind of quality and constructive feedback that I needed in order to help me improve my research. Ultimately, the ARNOVA emerging scholar award played an influential role in allowing me to pursue a line of research that I am passionate about.

As of this fall, over 1,200 members representing hundreds of institutions, dozens of disciplines, and over 50 countries fill ARNOVA’s ranks—this is up from fewer than 800 members just 3 years prior! This increase in membership certainly presents numerous networking opportunities. It also means that there are likely more students and junior scholars joining ARNOVA—many of whom would greatly benefit from receiving an ARNOVA scholarship and/or award.

Without question, I can say that ARNOVA has impacted my career; and, I am committed to helping the organization provide the same opportunities for others. I ask, then, that you please join me in creating opportunities for new and emerging scholars to attend our conference, participate in our professional development programs, and most importantly further knowledge in our field. You may designate your gift to support specialized funds to help new scholars, members who need travel assistance, or you may simply donate to the general fund. 

If every member makes a donation, we can be responsive to more emerging scholars and scholars who lack the institutional and/or personal resources to attend the ARNOVA conference and participate in the organization.

Donations are tax-deductible and may be charged to your Visa, MasterCard, or Discover account by going online at and clicking Donate. You may also donate by check to the address below, or you may pledge your gift in honor or memoriam of someone. To make a pledge, simply fill out the “donor comment” section of the donate page. 

Thank you so very much for your consideration.

Lindsey McDougle


Mail donation checks to:
441 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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Remarks by Thomasina Borkman, Recipient of ARNOVA Distinguished Achievement & Leadership Award

Posted By Fatima Hussain, Thursday, December 8, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2016

Acceptance of ARNOVA Award for Distinguished Achievement & Leadership in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research

Thomasina Borkman

November 18, 2016


I am very honored and thrilled to accept this award from ARNOVA.  ARNOVA has been my intellectual professional association for over 30 years!  Thank you ARNOVA and George Mason University, my academic home for over 32 years.  And, thank you Jeff Brudney for the thoughtful introduction.  Jeff has been a ray of sunshine at ARNOVA conferences always having uplifting comments whenever I see him.


I turned 80 years old last month!  From this vantage point looking back is easier then looking ahead. It gives me a chance to review my appreciation for ARNOVA and the wonderful people I’ve known over the years as well as to summarize changes I have witnessed about my own research on self-help groups the past 46 years.


My work has been research with what David Horton Smith (2000) calls Grassroots Associations –locally based, informal associations, using volunteers, largely without paid staff; David discusses them as the frequent-in-number but largely ignored associations analogous to the large invisible matter of the astrophysical universe. Grassroots Associations are especially flexible as they can be created around many innovative ideas; but, they are also fragile--they are so easy to create but often do not last long--ephemeral.  


I have discovered one organizational form that is a sustainable alternative to a bureaucracy; the 12 step-12-tradition groups of which the best known is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which has been copied by 80-100 other anonymous groups.   AA is 80 years old and probably 10 or more other 12 step-12 tradition groups are over 50 years old. Grassroots organizations are especially difficult to study because they are so informal and are not consistently in national data bases.


When I received my Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University in 1969, the contemporary women’s movement had begun but had not made much headway.  I fared very well with a fulltime tenure level assistant professor job; but, I was feeling somewhat like an oddball--having a Ph.D. My high school girlfriends had mostly dropped out of college when they found a husband and were raising babies inside the white picket fences. Because I was married I was not totally strange within the context of the times. 


Sociology as a discipline focuses on the study of how social systems and their components achieve order and stability AND how they evolve and change (The kinds of change we face has become a concern after this presidential election). I was well trained in the classics (Max Weber, Emile Durkheim) and contemporary theorists (Robert Merton was my favorite theorist at Columbia, Talcott Parsons, and so forth). But I had only intellectual knowledge.  In the following years I would experience evolution and change from (1) the women’s movement from which I benefited hugely in my own personal life and in my career, (2) my area of research—the development of self-help groups from new beginnings in the 1970s through changes and institutionalization in the US by 2000 and (3) the development of interdisciplinary research and professionalization of the nonprofit organization and voluntary action area (the Third Sector), especially by contributing to ARNOVA, and internationally to ISTR (International Society of Third Sector Research).     


Researching a Movement from its Beginning to its Institutionalization

I started teaching in 1969. In 1970, I found an unlikely group of people who stutter and attended their public presentation to parents of children who stutter. They were frightened to speak in public as they all stuttered but they persevered. They were so courageous I fell in love with them.  I was very curious and asked them if I could study them. They were thrilled to have anyone interested in them (e.g., they had sent a letter to 100 speech therapists offering to help them with parents of children who stuttered and received zero replies). I conducted participant observation, attending their weekly meetings for about 2 years, and did a mail questionnaire survey of all the groups I could find in the English-speaking world (see Borkman 1999). 


What were they?  (Self-help groups had no name as such until 1976.)  They were not a social club—they had no parties; they had goals of individual fluency and personal improvement; plus, they had goals of helping other people who stuttered.  But, they did not behave like a philanthropy. They were a registered 501(C)(3) but they did not behave like one--they operated like a group.   They were a registered nonprofit only because they had a member (a lawyer) who applied for the legal status.  (You cannot learn these types of details through national databases; you can only learn this level of detail through qualitative research.) They were very puzzling and intellectually fascinating.  In the world survey, I found a New Zealand group that had disbanded because they met their goals.  I had never read or heard of anything like that in the organizational literature.  I was hooked—what on earth is this new creature that cannot be explained by any type of group or organization I had ever heard or read about.


In 1972 as part of the women’s movement I attended a consciousness-raising group (CR group) which was a form of a self-help group.  In a CR group women tell their personal stories in a sharing circle; they do not quote facts, data or reference experts.  I had to learn how to think about and talk about my life and career as a human being rather than the “objective” researcher. Learning to reflect on and honor my own experience helped formulate what became my best known theoretical formulation about self-help groups—their development and use of experiential knowledge—the authority of embodied and lived experience of peers (see Borkman 1976).


In retrospect, I recognize that I was privileged to observe a movement from its near beginning buoyed by and connected with the civil rights and women’s movements, disability movement, and other movements of the 1970s-80s and later. Self-help groups are groups of individuals who share an illness or stigmatizing condition and meet to improve or ameliorate their situation.  They occur in civil society--not part of the market place or government; are self-governing without professional facilitators; and they engage in mutual aid without fees.  Their technology is the “sharing circle” of exchanging narratives of lived experience with the focal issue through which they develop collectivized experiential knowledge about handling their situation.


Around 2000, self-help groups became institutionalized as support groups with professionals appropriating them, changing their name to generic support groups, and hosting them routinely in hospitals and clinics (see Archibald 2007). However, they are also institutionalized as the original self-governing groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous that lay people initiate; many are now online or telephone-based groups and are known as support groups or self-help support groups. I estimated that a large minority of the US population understood self-help groups well enough to initiate one themselves by 1990.  There were two examples in the Washington Post just last month.  First, the Washington Post (Oct. 31, 2016) reported a story of local mothers who work in the legal medical marijuana business in Washington, D.C., but are concerned “what to tell their young kids” if they come home smelling like marijuana. “The stigma has her questioning how to discuss her profession with her children.”  She formed a support group with other moms in the marijuana business “to navigate child-rearing in the murky age of legalization.”  The second example was in the Tuesday Health and Science section in October that discussed a man who had an extremely rare form of cancer.  One of his major complaints in the article was that he could not find a support group of others with his type of cancer!


Participation in ARNOVA

Over time I became more interdisciplinary and more international in orientation.  ARNOVA’s explicit acknowledgement of values and discussion about their role in research and practice has been key to ARNOVA becoming my professional association home.  The ARNOVA Board of Directors statement yesterday reaffirming our values after the Presidential election I heartily endorse.


I have been a Consulting Editor of JVAR and then NVSQ, was on the Board in my early days, contributed to the development of the Community and Grassroots section (CGAP) in 1995 with David Horton Smith, Carl Milofsky, Richard Sundeen, and others.  I was President of ARNOVA in 1991-1992 during a critical period when it changed from a voluntary association to a paid staff nonprofit. David Horton Smith (2001), founder, in a history of ARNOVA divided it into 3 periods: (1) formative period of 1971-1976, (2) the volunteer leadership period of 1977-1994, and the (3) paid executive director period: late 1994-to present.  During my era of the middle period, Presidents were working as volunteers, not as figureheads. The only paid person was a part time administrator.  The association was changing from being narrowly focused on voluntary action to broaden its scope to all voluntary nonprofit sector studies including citizen participation, civil society, and philanthropy.  Nonprofit management centers were developing: how should they be incorporated into an expanded ARNOVA?   How could we expand the disciplines that participated such as law, business, history, public administration, and other fields?  International NGOs were also increasing with pressure to develop an international association: should ARNOVA take that on or cooperate in helping birth a new organization? 


Three sets of Presidents guided us through the major changes from voluntary association to paid staff nonprofit. Robert Herman before me in 1989-1990 stewarded discussion and change process, including name changes of the (JVAR) journal to NVSQ and association from AVAS to ARNOVA.  I as President continued the process rewriting the By-Laws, and expanding the focus of the Journal and changing its editor to Carl Milofsky.  I enlisted more volunteering effort from the officers and the Board with the unusual amount of work necessary for the transition.  Following me were Co-Presidents Kirsten Gronbjerg and Richard Steinberg who importantly wrote successful grant proposals that provided funding for a greatly expanded ARNOVA including a more permanent executive office at Indiana University where is remains.  


During my tenure, we also considered whether ARNOVA should become the international organization.  After many long discussions and considerations, we decided to cooperate in the development of a separate ISTR  which became housed at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. I honor Virginia Hodgkinson who is here today—she favored a separate international organization.  Many ARNOVA colleagues participate in ISTR’s international conferences; I see many of them at those conferences. ARNOVA and ISTR have led me to collaborative research with colleagues in Japan, Sweden, UK and Israel--eye opening and mind boggling! If you want to understand the organization or phenomena you are researching, study it comparatively—in another culture, country or context. 


Now, to conclude! I’ve been retired since 2007 but active professionally on a limited scale—editing an international journal, part time research on an NIH funded project (see Borkman et al 2016), some ARNOVA-related work (e.g., Munn-Giddings, et al. 2016) and some mentoring. The greatest part of participating in ARNOVA has been of course the people: Carl Milofsky, Joyce Rothschild, Jon Van Til, Lehn Benjamin and so many others—Ann Dill, David Horton Smith, Elizabeth Boris; my Canadian friends such as Vic Murray, Laurie Mook and  Brenda Zimmerman, among others. I have learned so much, been challenged and supported by colleagues and friends.  I’ll close on the old adage about volunteering: the more you participate and give to others, the more you receive! It’s win-win!     




Archibald, Matthew E.  2007. The Evolution of Self-Help: How a Health Movement Became an Institution. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Borkman, T. "Experiential Knowledge:  A New Concept for the Analysis of   Self‑Help Group,"  Social Service Review, 50 (September):  445‑456, 1976. 

Borkman, T., Understanding Self-Help/Mutual Aid: Experiential Learning in the Commons. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999.

Borkman, T., Stunz, A., & Kaskutas, L.A. Developing an experiential definition of recovery: Participatory research with recovering substance abusers from multiple pathways. Substance Use and Misuse, 51, 9, 2016. DOI:10.3109/10826084.2016.1160119.


Munn-Giddings, C., Oka, T.,  Borkman, T.,  Matzat, J.,  Montaño & Chikoto. Self-help and mutual aid group volunteering in Smith, D. Horton, Stebbins, R. A. & Grotz, J. (Eds) Palgrave Handbook of Volunteering, Civic Participation, and Nonprofit Associations, 2016. Palgrave Macmillan UK.


Smith, David Horton. Grassroots Associations.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000.

Smith, David Horton. A History of ARNOVA.  Indianapolis, IN: ARNOVA, 2001.


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Letter from the President, Mary Tschirhart

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dear ARNOVA Members,

I am honored to be serving as your new president. ARNOVA has benefited me greatly during my career and I am privileged to be joining the leadership team helping steward its future. As I begin my two-year term, I want to express my deep appreciation to Alan Abramson, ARNOVA’s past president, who has guided me through the leadership transition with the deep passion and dedication that exemplified his tenure. My thanks extend to the board members who ended their terms in November 2016: Lehn Benjamin, John McNutt, Judith Millesen, and Jessica Sowa, as well as those who continue to serve on the board or just joined it. Above all, my thanks go to the membership that has made this association such a nurturing place.

ARNOVA is in great shape and that is due largely to the diversity and strength of its members. Our now not-so-new executive director, Shariq Siddiqui, has worked ably with members, board, staff, grant-makers and others to expand our reach and services. Our membership has grown and attendance at our last conference was over 900-- the largest in our history. Our journal, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, continues to engage readers and shape scholarship and practice. In the coming year, expect to see many exciting innovations from our editorial team of Angela Bies, Chao Guo and Susan Phillips. Like our NVSQ editors, the leaders of our ARNOVA sections and Interest Groups are experimenting with new ways to serve members and the broader public. We are working closely with a variety of organizations to enhance the benefits of ARNOVA membership and bring more resources and attention to research on the nonprofit sector and voluntary action.

The 2016 conference theme of nonprofits and public policy reminded us of the varied roles the nonprofit sector plays and the numerous ways that voluntary action touches our lives. In 2017, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we will focus on the role of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in strengthening local communities. I hope you will join me there.

All the best in the New Year,

Mary Tschirhart, The Ohio State University
ARNOVA Board President

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The Launch of Africa’s Newest Non-Profit Association, AROCSA

Posted By John Harvey, Global Philanthropy Services, Friday, June 24, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2016


In Lagos this May, a yearlong exploration on the formation of an association for civil society-focused research and scholarship in Africa culminated in a formal organizational launch and the successful convening of the new association’s first continent-wide conference. The organization, now legally registered in Nigeria and the United States, has been dubbed the Association for Research on Civil Society in Africa, or AROCSA.


This initiative has come about through the leadership of the Ford Foundation’s West Africa Office. To guide this effort, Ford partnered with ARNOVA, a U.S.-based academic association with more than 40 years’ experience in convening non-profit practitioners, scholars, researchers, and students focused on civil society. Among ARNOVA’s many accomplishments has been the publication of Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, a globally respected scholarly journal.  

First Stop, Accra 

The first major stop in the formation of AROCSA took place in September 2015, when a group of fourteen West African scholars, civil society practitioners, and “pracademics”—individuals whose careers bridge non-profit scholarship and practice—came together in Accra to explore the possibility of forming an association that could support their field. This core group was joined by a small delegation of non-profit scholars from the United States along with representatives from ARNOVA. Together, members of this group constitute the founders of AROCSA.


At this meeting, participants discussed and debated the value of creating a scholarly association focused on civil society, looking at potential strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. These lively exchanges led to a collective sense that such an organization would indeed add value to the non-profit sector in Africa. Discussions turned to potential programmatic areas the new organization might focus on, and five were selected for further investigation:


1.     A regional academic journal focused on African civil society

2.     An annual conference bringing together scholars and practitioners for networking, learning, and skills-building

3.     Training for scholars and civil society organization staff on applied research methods and evidence-based work

4.     A fund to support research and scholarship on civil society in Africa

5.     Fellowships for doctoral students and civil society professionals.


At Accra, it was decided that the new organization should be continent-wide rather than West Africa-focused: AROCSA’s founders agreed that it is crucial that there be a continent-wide organization that can serve as a bedrock for advancing knowledge and practice in the civil society space in Africa. It was in this spirit that the group committed to moving forward collectively to formally establish AROCSA, and all left Accra with high hopes.


Next Stop, Chicago 

The next major stop on the journey to creating AROCSA took place in Chicago in November 2015. There, following ARNOVA’s annual conference, AROCSA’s West Africa-based founders focused much of their time on issues of organizational development, including mission and values:


AROCSA’s Mission: To promote and advance a community of excellence in research and practice on civil society in the service of African development.   


AROCSA’s Values:

1.     Integrity

a.     We value and practice accountability, transparency and professionalism

b.     We value and work with courage of conviction

c.     We strive for the highest ethics, being intellectually and materially honest

d.     We are non-partisan and non-sectarian in our positions and actions

2.     Excellent in Scholarship and Practice

a.     We promote rigorous, high-quality research and practice

b.     We aspire to be globally competitive

3.     Diversity and Inclusion

a.     We acknowledge, embrace and accommodate diversity

b.     We are intentional in including people and ideas from multiple demographic backgrounds

c.     We maintain and sustain democratic principles

d.     We are pan-generational, gender sensitive, multilingual, community-focused, pan-African, and tolerant towards multiple viewpoints.


And Onto Lagos… 

With greater clarity on AROCSA’s direction, founding members then turned to the organizing of the organization’s formal launch event, a conference to be held in Lagos in May 2016. While ARNOVA staff provided strong logistical support to the undertaking, a small group of AROCSA founders coordinated the development of the conference program as well as outreach to potential participants. To support these efforts and AROCSA’s broader launch, an organizational logo was developed and an AROCSA website was launched.


The AROCSA launch conference took place in Lagos from May 19th to 21st, 2016. The more than 80 registrants were largely West Africa-based, but participants from Malawi, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Cameroon helped to bring a more continent-wide perspective to the event. In plenaries and breakout sessions, the conference program explored a range of issues, including technology, corruption, cross-country collaboration, social entrepreneurship, public policy, impact assessment, and philanthropy.


Conference evaluations revealed a very positive response to the gathering among participants: On their overall experience, the conference program, networking and other broad conference elements, roughly 97% of participants were “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied”—exceptionally strong numbers under any circumstances but especially so given that this was AROCSA’s first conference. Most encouragingly, when asked, “Based on your experience here, do you expect to become more involved in AROCSA?”, 100% of respondents to this question answered “Yes”. At the final session of the conference, more than 40 participants showed up to share their ideas for AROCSA and to sign up to participate in a range of working groups established to move AROCSA forward.


Moving AROCSA Forward 

AROCSA founders’ meetings, just prior to and after the conference, were held to discuss a range of organizational development issues, most importantly leadership and governance. For the next year, a transitional leadership and governance structure will guide AROCSA, to include a Chair and a subset of AROCSA’s founders, the latter who will chair several committees, including several focused on the different program areas, one focused on membership, and one focused on fundraising and partnerships. A support staff person will be hired, primarily to support the Chair but also to lend assistance to the committees’ work. ARNOVA will continue to play a supportive role to the new enterprise, including by overseeing a new grant from the Ford Foundation that will fund AROCSA’s activities through the convening of the next conference, to be held in Johannesburg in July 2017.    


While AROCSA’s founders are very optimistic about the future of the organization, they are by no means blind to the challenges ahead, as surfaced in their final meeting together. Among the biggest challenges:


Ø  maintaining a largely volunteer organization run by otherwise very busy people

Ø  moving beyond West Africa to build a truly continent-wide organization

Ø  accommodating Africa’s linguistic diversity

Ø  finding the right balance between academia and practice

Ø  raising sufficient funding to support AROCSA’s admittedly ambitious programmatic goals.


These and other challenges aside, the launch of the Association for Research on Civil Society in Africa represents a very positive development within African civil society. If the organizations’ first period of organization is a harbinger of its future, AROCSA should indeed anticipate many successes moving forward. 

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Special Events at the 2016 ARNOVA Conference Announced!

Posted By Hadia Shaikh, Thursday, May 26, 2016


FEATURED: Methods Workshop: Social Network Analysis as a Tool to Analyze Systems Outcomes and Evaluate Programs


ARNOVA is hosting a peculiar variety of workshops to offer at the 45th Conference this year from November 17th-19th, 2016. 


In this workshop, Social Network Analysis will be introduced as a method for analyzing and evaluating data about collaboration in the nonprofit sector. Attendees can expect to leave the session with an introductory understanding of SNA, an overview of several examples of SNA both for research and to translate data to practice, and access to a tool (PARTNER, to simplify implementing your own SNA for your research study or community-based project.


This session is free and limited to the first 35 participants who sign up through conference registration. You will need to bring a laptop to the session. Prior to the session, some readings will be distributed, and instructions for preparing your laptop for the workshop will be provided.


This pre-conference workshop will be a methods workshop held on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 by Danielle Varda. ARNOVA will provide more details to follow soon. 


Other Special Event, Mini Plenaries, and Sessions at the ARNOVA Conference


The Politics of "Big Philanthropy" Then and Now: A Historical Perspective on Critical Philanthropy Research


Nonprofits & Hybrids: Collaboration and Conflicts


Frontiers of Nonprofit Data Collection


Updating the Research Agenda on Government-Nonprofit Relationships


Recognition of Award Winning Scholarly Research


Methods Workshop: Social Network Analysis as a Tool to Analyze Systems, Outcomes, and Evaluate Programs


Writing a Successful Book Proposal


Succeeding in Publishing in Peer-Reviewed Journals


The Nonprofit Panel Dataset: Sharing Progress and Seeking Constituent Feedback


Nonprofit and Philanthropic Consulting: An Introduction to the Field and Dialogue with Long-Time Consultants


Career Development - Junior - "Surviving and thriving on the tenure track"


Promotion to Full Professor: Why, When, With What Effects?


The Senior Career Experience


Early Career Development


NP/Philanthropy Journalism and Writing, Geared Towards Academics 


Stay tuned for more!


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ARNOVA Welcomes Our First Conference Registrant!

Posted By Fatima Hussain, Friday, May 13, 2016
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016


Meet Colton Strawser, the first registrant for the 2016 ARNOVA Conference! 

Early Bird registration for ARNOVA's 45th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. began on May 9th and has brought in several registrants, the first of which was Colton Strawser, an ARNOVA member who manages his own nonprofit and communications consulting firm.


Currently, Colton is a Program Officer at The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County in Indiana. He oversees grantmaking related to education, including scholarships and teacher creativity grants. Previously, he has held various roles in program development, fundraising, and curriculum development. He has consulted with the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana, and was a Fellow with Youth Philanthropy Connect (a program of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation). He has earned his BA in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and is currently pursuing his MS in Higher Education Administration (with a concentration in online teaching and program administration) and MS in Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy from Bay Path University. Strawser plans to pursue a Ph.D. to research best practices in teaching nonprofit management and philanthropy in K-12 and higher education, while also researching youth, family, and community philanthropy.

This will be Colton’s first ARNOVA conference, and he looks forward to learning more about how research is conducted and utilized in the field of philanthropic and nonprofit studies. During the conference he will have just finished his degree in higher education administration and will be in the middle of writing his capstone paper for his nonprofit management and philanthropy; therefore, he is looking forward to discovering new ideas on how to complete his research.


We look forward to hosting Mr. Strawser and the hundreds of other attendees who make the ARNOVA Conference the enriching experience that it is!



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ARNOVA visits DC

Posted By Hadia Shaikh, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2016


We look forward to hosting you at the 45th Annual ARNOVA Conference, held in Washington, DC. this year! 



The conference will take place at Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The Hyatt Regency Washington is located in a central area that is less than a 15-minute drive to well-known areas of DC. During your stay here for the conference, we hope you will find an assortment of activities to enjoy. A city known for its many attractions, Washington DC is rich in arts, culture, history, and sight-seeing.


There are plenty of activities to explore during the day. With many historical venues all around, visiting places such as the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall are a must. Have you ever wanted to view the original Declaration of Independence? The National Archives has this on display along with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights! Visiting the giant pandas at Smithsonian's National Zoo is also a great choice in activities especially after the baby boom in animals recently.


The city is full of museums and galleries as well. The Renwick Gallery, located near the White House, is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection of contemporary craft and decorative art. The National Gallery of Art houses around 141,000 pieces of art, focusing on Western art from the Middle Ages through the present. A few others to visit are, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Freer and Sackler Galleries, and many more museums of the Smithsonian Institution. These museums and galleries are open daily from 10:00AM to 5:30PM.  


DC provides its visitors with a variety of events that are entertaining and reasonable for everyone! Most venues and events are family friendly. Consider doing a Segway Tour or a Pedicab while being a tourist.


Below are additional links with many activities to explore while visiting, as well as more information on transportation throughout the city. The options are unlimited and we hope you enjoy your visit to the city for the 45th Annual ARNOVA Conference in Washington, DC.


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The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) is a diverse community of scholars, educators, and practice leaders that strengthens the field of nonprofit and philanthropic research in order to improve civil society and human life.

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