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The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), Independent Sector, and Nonprofit Policy Forum are excited to invite you to attend the 11th Annual Nonprofit Public Policy Symposium.

This unique, virtual event welcomes you into a community of leading scholars, nonprofit practitioners, community advocates, and regulators who are experts in the field of public policy. Together, we’ll work to develop a better understanding of policy issues that are shaping – or have the potential to shape – the future of civil society.

This year, the theme of the symposium is “Nonprofits 9 to 5: What a Way to Make a Livin.’” It will focus on the nonprofit sector’s paid and voluntary workforce and the employment practices of nonprofits – including foundations. Dolly Parton’s classic song “9 to 5” is named after an advocacy organization created to give voice to women in the workforce who felt invisible. Similarly, despite the impressive size and impact of the nonprofit workforce, this workforce is relatively invisible to policymakers.

The sector needs to better understand its own human capital needs and trends. Parton’s song often is described as an “anthem for the overworked and underpaid,” sentiments frequently echoed among nonprofit employees. Like the song, nonprofit workers have a shared sense of pride, but also shared grievances and the desire for systemic change.

Leading workforce practitioners will be in conversation with scholars to demystify what new research findings mean for the nonprofit sector and its workforce. You’ll have the chance to join the conversation to ask questions and share your insights. Whether you’re a seasoned policy expert or someone who is new to the field, there’s an incredible amount to learn and contribute!


Part I

"It’s All Takin’ and No Givin’”: A Strained Nonprofit Workforce

Practitioner Discussant: Rusty Stahl, Founder, President, and CEO of Fund the People

“Burnout” has been a common buzzword associated with the nonprofit workforce in recent years. This section of the symposium seeks to better understand the strained nonprofit workforce with a focus on the characteristics of workers who are likely to burnout, how economic insecurity has contributed to untenable working conditions, the ways in which worker expectations around meaningful work are evolving, and related issues.

Topics include: 

  • “Precarious Professionals: The Impact of Neoliberalism on the Workforce of the Nonprofit Human Service Sector,” by Cheryl Hyde, Temple University
  • “The Myth of Agency,” by Carrie Oelberger, University of Minnesota
  • “’Beyond Psychic Income’: An Exploration of Public Policy Interventions to Address Work-Life Balance, Burnout, and Precarity in Contemporary Nonprofit Work,” by Robbie Robichau, Texas A&M University; Billie Sandberg, Portland State University; and Andrew Russo, Portland State University


Part II

"You’ve Got Passion and a Vision”: Incentivizing and Improving Nonprofit Sector Work

Practitioner Discussant: Linda Nguyen, Founder and Executive Director of Movement Talent

This section of the symposium examines how we can incentivize and improve nonprofit sector work to attract members of Gen Z, retain Millennials, and create a more inclusive and equitable experience for all sector workers. We’ll discuss effective and ineffective DEI practices (you might be surprised), potential policy changes to help nonprofits attract younger talent, incentives beyond compensation and benefits, and more.

Topics include: 

  • “Policy Intervention for Stemming the Reproduction of Employment Inequities by Embedding Inclusive Practices in Nonprofit Organizations,” by Ruth Bernstein, Pepperdine University & Paul Salipante, Case Western Reserve University
  • “What Millennials Want in Nonprofit Workplaces,” by Samantha Plotner, University of Illinois Chicago
  • “The Recent College Graduate to Non-Profits Pipeline: Opportunities and Challenges,” by Michael Ringenbach, Pennsylvania State University


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Selected applicants will receive an honorarium of $250. Final versions of the perspective pieces will be reviewed for publication in the journal Nonprofit Policy Forum in a special issue devoted to papers from the Nonprofit Public Policy Symposium.

For further information, please contact Lewis Faulk ( or Emily Rogers (

Authors may also be invited to take part in a session at the ARNOVA annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, November 17-19, 2022.

View reports from previous Symposiums

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