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2020 Symposium on Public Policy for Nonprofits
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2020 Symposium on Public Policy for Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Monday, May 18th 2020 | Convened Virtually Online


Submissions Extended April 10, 2020 



The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and Independent Sector invite proposals for this year’s Policy Symposium in two tracks: (1) proposals for short 2,000 word academically informed perspective pieces on specific 2020 presidential campaign policy proposals that will affect the nonprofit sector, and (2) proposals for short 4,000 word analyses of nonprofit-relevant policy issues or research notes.

This year’s policy symposium invites proposals under two tracks.


Track 1


Track 1 invites proposals for 2,000 word perspectives on how a specific public policy that has been proposed in the 2020 presidential campaign would impact nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Pieces in Track 1 will reflect on the academic or historical literature to discuss and analyze what the policy proposal’s expected and unexpected consequences might be on nonprofits and philanthropy if a candidate’s policy proposal were to advance toward law or their support for the status quo enables current law to remain intact. Proposals should incorporate perspectives on general implications for the nonprofit sector, specific implications that may affect parts of the sector, potential unintended consequences, and perspectives on how the nonprofit sector might respond to the policy proposal in terms of advocacy, invited testimony, strategic adaptation, or litigation. 


Examples of presidential campaign policy proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • Free higher education, and other education related policies;
  • Public Health - Healthcare for all (and alternatives), opioid abuse, family planning;
  • Jobs-focused policies, including policies intended to increase equity in the economy;
  • Trade/tax/regulatory policies to spur economic growth, including tariff policies;
  • Tax policies that may impact charitable giving, including a wealth tax and other tax reform;
  • Universal affordable child care (and alternatives);
  • Climate policies; environmental justice, and environmental regulatory reforms;
  • Political activity, including revisions to the Johnson Amendment, elections, and campaign finance policies;
  • National service and volunteerism focused policies;
  • Public service loan forgiveness, student loan debt forgiveness (and alternatives);
  • Criminal justice reform policies;
  • Infrastructure, community development, and small business/entrepreneurship funding; and
  • Immigration policies (including policies directed at Sanctuary Cities)

Track 2


Track 2 invites proposals for 4,000 word analyses of policy issues and original research on policy issues focusing on the intersection of nonprofit organizations – including foundations - and elections or the democratic process.

  • Examples of potential topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Non-partisan civic engagement, particularly during election years;
  • Nonprofit influence in voter education, mobilization and democratic participation;
  • Role of nonprofits in a representative democracy;
  • Inequality and nonprofit voice and representation for segments of society in the policy process;
  • Nonprofit role in addressing unequal power/influence in a policy arena;
  • Ethics regarding elections and the philanthropy of candidates or elected officials;
  • Government laws/regulations and oversight related to nonprofit political activity;
  • The role of nonprofits in educating the public about electoral/policy issues;
  • Influence of sector trends (privatization, marketization, concentration of funding, public trust; etc.) on nonprofits’ ability to fulfill democratic role, or
  • Nonprofits, pluralism, and civic participation in electoral process.




Proposals are due on April 10, 2020, and should be submitted on-line on the ARNOVA website below. Submissions should include the following in a combined PDF document

  • The title and track (choose track 1 or track 2)
  • A 600 word proposal describing the research questions, planned analysis, sources or data, and expected findings or implications.
  • Short bios for all authors.

All proposals will be reviewed by the symposium planning committee, composed of academic and practitioner reviewers, and authors will be notified no later than April 15 of their invitation to a policy symposium in Washington, DC on May 18, 2020, co-sponsored by ARNOVA and Independent Sector.




Selected authors will receive stipends of $250 for the final draft due on July 1, 2020. Final versions will be posted online by ARNOVA and Independent Sector, compiled in a publication, and/or otherwise made available to the public, including limited funding to support open access publication in peer reviewed journals.

For further information, please contact Lewis Faulk or Jasmine McGinnis Johnson ARNOVA-IS Policy Symposium Co-Chairs, at or

Authors may also be invited to take part in a session at the ARNOVA annual conference in Indianapolis, IN, November 12-14, 2020.



View reports from previous Symposiums




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11/12/2020 » 11/14/2020
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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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