Announcement Events Nonprofit Employment Data Project Staff update

Schar professors attended a White House Roundtable on Nonprofit Workforce and Data

By: Buzz McClain

Schar School professors Alan Abramson and Stefan Toepler attended a White House Roundtable on Nonprofit Workforce and Data last week.

The roundtable, which was organized by White House staff in collaboration with Independent Sector and the Aspen Institute’s Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, engaged participants in dialogue about the ongoing challenges facing the nonprofit workforce and the critical role that U.S. government plays in shaping and advancing policy interventions that are crucial to addressing the needs of the nonprofit workforce.

Professor Abramson

The roundtable touched on an important area of focus for the Schar School’s Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise, directed by Abramson. With support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the center is engaged in a major project, the George Mason University – Nonprofit Employment Data project, that analyzes federal nonprofit employment data and is developing a website to make this data available to the public and scholars in an easily accessible format. 

The project is also exploring other federal data sources that contain information about nonprofits which can be helpful to policymakers, nonprofit leaders, and scholars seeking to deepen their understanding of nonprofit activities.

For more information about recent Schar activities, check out this post by Buzz McClain.

Announcement Research

Chowdhary reflects on the EMES Social Enterprise Research Conference, in Frankfort Germany

Sonali Chowdhary is a Public Policy PhD student in the
Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University

I was very pleased to join Professor Alan Abramson in presenting our paper, “What Social Enterprise Policy Lessons Can the US Learn from Other Countries: A Proposed Policy Framework for Social Enterprise in the US,” at the 9th EMES Social Enterprise Research Conference in Frankfurt, Germany in September. The conference theme, “Act locally, change globally: Social enterprises for more resilient economies and societies,” underscores the potential of hybrid, double-bottom-line social enterprises to make a significant positive impact in both smaller communities and broader societies, and the need for robust research about these entities.


During the four-day conference, Prof. Abramson and I engaged in numerous stimulating workshops, plenaries, networking sessions, and field visits. These activities provided us important insights into the latest developments in social enterprise activities and policies worldwide. What made the conference particularly enriching was the chance to gain insights from the perspectives of various thought leaders, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. For example, plenary sessions featured important leaders in the social enterprise field like Sven Giegold, Secretary of State to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action in Germany; Sarah de Heusch, Director of Social Economy of the European Union; Giulio Pasi, Scientific Officer at the European Commission, who is working on the relationships between public policy and new markets; and Ilcheong Yi, Senior Research Coordinator at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

It was especially interesting for me and other conference attendees to hear about the new German policy on social innovation from the German Secretary and about the EU strategy on social economy. The thought-provoking discussions and plenaries that featured dialogues between policy makers, eminent scholars, and social entrepreneurs influenced the perspectives of emerging scholars like myself.

One of the conference field visits took conference participants to the Struwwelpeter Museum, a social enterprise in Frankfurt, that recruited its workforce from hard to employ communities. The visit was a great opportunity to talk to the head of the Museum about its business model, which was based on revenue generated from both fees and government support such as social security and VAT exemptions for the enterprise.

I am very grateful to support from the Schar School’s Schar Initiative and its Center for Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise for providing me this invaluable conference opportunity.

For more information see:

Announcement Events

‘Reimagining’ Nonprofits: It’s Time to Bring Equity and Justice to Philanthropy

This summary is reposted from the Schar School of Policy and Government’s Latest News page.

Nonprofit scholar Angela M. Eikenberry, second from left, is flanked by the professors at the Schar School’s Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise. From left, Alan Abramson, Mirae Kim, and Stefan Toepler. Photo by Buzz McClain/Schar School of Policy and Government

“What if our nonprofit organizations and our research brought about emancipation, transformation, equity, and justice? What if our nonprofit organization workplaces brought out the best in us? What if our research supported these goals?”  

Those were the questions asked earlier this month by Angela M. Eikenberry, a professor at the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska Omaha and a past president of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), which advances the field of nonprofit and philanthropic research by providing a forum for scholars, educators, and practitioners.

Eikenberry was the guest of George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and its Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise. Her April 10 talk at Mason’s Mason Square campus invited listeners to “reimagine” the way the nonprofit sector and philanthropy could operate.

The following are highlights from the presentation, Reveal, Repair, and (Re)Imagine: Reframing Philanthropy Theory and Practice:

  • Eikenberry pointed out the need for nonprofit and foundation leaders and scholars to examine current philanthropic systems and view them through a critical lens. Pulling on nonprofit scholarship, such as research by Bowling Green State University scholar Abhishek Bhati, Eikenberry explored the ways philanthropy has perpetuated histories of colonialism, paternalism, and other systems of oppression—pointing to the need for continued research into the intended or unintended consequences of current philanthropic structures.
  • Eikenberry explored ways philanthropy and nonprofit scholars can work to change systems and repair damages caused by current systems of power. She pointed to organizations doing this work, including the U.K.’s grant-making Edge Fund that seeks to end imbalances of wealth and power by rethinking grant-making systems.
  • Eikenberry ended by encouraging participants to ask big, bold “what if” questions that go beyond current philanthropic practices and to re-imagine the role nonprofit researchers can play to develop the kinds of systems and structures needed to get there.

For more information about the Schar School’s highly ranked nonprofit studies, see this site.

Announcement Research Staff update

Center leaders celebrate 50 years of ARNOVA and NVSQ with contributions to a NVSQ special issue

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.

Announcement Staff update

Mirae Kim was re-elected to the ARNOVA Board of Directors

In July 2022, the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) announced the results of their board elections! Mirae Kim was re-elected by ARNOVA membership to serve as a Member-at-Large!

Dr. Kim brings a wealth of experience to this role. Her research has been published in several scholarly outlets, contributing to the growth of nonprofit literature, and one of her articles was awarded the outstanding article in the NVSQ. Also, she has been serving as a co-editor-in-chief of the Nonprofit Policy Forum and has been leading the “Nonprofit Organization Research Panel” project. She has recently teamed up with several nonprofit scholars to create the platform for nonprofit panel data, which could bring much-needed resources for nonprofit scholars. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she has also been striving to be the bridge between scholarly work and nonprofit practitioners as a Visiting Scholar at Independent Sector.

In this role, Dr.Kim will be responsible for helping ARNOVA fulfill its mission to strengthen the field of nonprofit and philanthropic research in order to improve civil society and human life. To do this, the association brings together both theoretical and applied interests, helping scholars gain insight into the day-to-day concerns of third-sector organizations, while providing nonprofit professionals with connections to research they can use to improve the work of their organizations and the quality of life for citizens and communities.

The Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise would like to congratulate the other candidates who were also elected to the ARNOVA Board of Directors:

  • Jasmine M. Johnson, re-elected to the Board as a Member-at-Large
  • Kelly LeRoux, elected as the new Board Secretary
  • Julia Carboni, Alisa Moldavanova and Nathaniel Wright, elected to the Board as Members-at-Large