Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the first publication of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), and its host association, ARNOVA, celebrated its 50th anniversary the year before. To celebrate these anniversaries, ARNOVA and NVSQ published a special issue of the journal, with the goal of assessing the state of research and future directions for the nonprofit, philanthropy, and civil society fields. Center leaders, Alan Abramson and Stefan Toepler, each contributed to the special issue, with Abramson and his colleagues looking back at the history of ARNOVA and Toepler and his colleagues looking ahead to new ways of analyzing relations between nonprofits and governments. The abstracts and links to these works can be found below.
A History of ARNOVA at Fifty
By Brenda K. Bushouse, Gregory R. Witkowski, and Alan J. Abramson
Abstract: To mark the 50th anniversary of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), this article reviews the association’s history, from its 1971 founding by a small group of scholars interested in voluntary action to the current association of more than 1,000 members who study a broad range of nonprofit, civil society, voluntary action, and philanthropic topics. To inform the history, we recorded oral histories and reviewed the ARNOVA collection of historical records at the Ruth Lilly Archives and internal files provided by ARNOVA. Our article is divided into three important junctures of change: 1971–1989, the founding period; 1990–2006, the golden era of philanthropic support; and 2007–2020, a maturing field and strategic directions. Through our analysis, we identify recurring themes and tensions and how ARNOVA navigated through a changing environment and growing field. We conclude the article with forward-looking questions.
Beyond the Partnership Paradigm: Toward an Extended Typology of Government/Nonprofit Relationship Patterns
By Stefan Toepler, Annette Zimmer, Katja Levy, and Christian Fröhlich
Abstract: This article takes a fresh look at nonprofit/government relations in the context of both the partnership literature on collaboration and the closing space literature on repression. Following the Weberian ideal-type approach, we develop a heuristic tool for nuanced analyses of relations between the sectors in comparative research that is applicable in diverse political regime settings. We integrate foundational conceptions of Salamon, Young, and Najam to develop our framework, which we then illustrate with the cases of Russia and China. While repression is not necessarily the predominant characteristic of nonprofit–government relations in authoritarian regime settings, the reduction of intersectoral relations to collaboration strategies common in Western contexts also falls short of capturing the full complexity of the relationship. Rather than trying to establish national patterns, researchers need to remain sensitive to the coexistence of multiple government/nonprofit relationship types, affecting various parts of the nonprofit sector differently.