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The Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and Independent Sector invite proposals for this year’s Nonprofit Public Policy Symposium, which will focus on the nonprofit sector workforce and nonprofits as employers. 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, we are most often invisible to policymakers without significant advocacy by the sector.

The sector needs to better understand our 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. The demographics of the nonprofit workforce are changing with potential disparities observed in rehiring, pay, and promotion, among women and particularly among women of color.

Proposals should address research findings or practice-informed perspectives on nonprofits as employers, the needs of nonprofit workers, and how the sector collectively can use public policy to foster a more equitable workforce in the future. Proposals to participate in the October 2022 symposium should contain a short, 600-word plan for a longer 2,000-4,000 word commentary, research article, or essay on the topics mentioned in the next section. Selected applicants will present the main points from their submissions at the 2022 Policy Symposium. Proposals are due April 29, 2022, and full submissions will be due September 16, 2022.

Proposal Content

Content theme: Nonprofits 9 to 5: What a Way to Make a Living

Proposals should contain short 600-word plans for a 2,000-4,000-word commentary, research article, or essay on nonprofit organizations – including foundations - as employers, as well as the experience of their workers, centering equity, data and trends, and policy interventions. Examples of research and practitioner-based perspectives we are seeking include, but are not limited to:


“You’ve Got Passion and a Vision”
  • National importance of the nonprofit workforce (e.g., nonprofit workforce as an economic driver, taxes paid by nonprofit workers as a source of government revenue, nonprofit employment as a factor in reducing unemployment, etc.);
  • Research improving understanding of the nonprofit workforce and nonprofits as employers, and how this information can inform public policy;
  • Public policies that support nonprofits as employers and practices that support the nonprofit workforce; and
  • Data sources that increase policymakers’ understanding of the nonprofit workforce and nonprofits as employers, including trends and current needs.
“It’s All Takin’ and No Givin’”
  • Identify ongoing disparities within the nonprofit workforce and how public policy may exacerbate or remedy them;
  • Potential impact of workforce policies (e.g., minimum wage, overtime pay regulations, paid family leave, childcare, PPP loans, anti-discrimination policies, etc.) on the nonprofit sector as an employer or types of nonprofit workers (e.g., frontline workers, women, workers of color, low-wage, seasonal, etc.);
  • Barriers to implementing equitable nonprofit HR and workforce practices and how those barriers might be addressed;
  • Influence of sector workforce trends (e.g., changing workforce demographics, COVID recovery, etc.) on nonprofits’ ability to fulfill their missions; and
  • Impact of other broad, work-related demographics and other trends (e.g., increased virtual work arrangements) on nonprofit employers and employees.



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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