Welcome to the Social Impact Blog!
In this blog, we’ll bridge the gap between what research teaches us about these questions, and what we see every day in our work with nonprofit organizations. Our posts will include:
- Easy-to-read summaries of nonprofit research. We will translate NNSI research and other related research on nonprofit organizations into brief summaries or infographics for easy reference. We hope that this will make academic research, based in rigorous scientific methods and peer reviewed by top researchers, as accessible and relevant as the consulting material and best practices currently available to nonprofit leaders.
- Broad reviews of nonprofit topics and trends. In these posts, we focus on what we know and what we don’t yet know about how organizations work together in the social sector. These posts are designed to help practitioners make connections between the new, hot trend that everyone’s talking about – such as collective impact or social impact bonds – and research on previous social impact interventions that incorporates similar principles or practices.
And more! Scroll down to see our posts, and check back often for updated content.
As collaborative partnerships become commonplace for Chinese nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to address a variety of complex social problems and foster the development of the Chinese civil society, the question of how they can expand their partnerships emerges. A recent study by NNSI researchers, Sophia Fu and Michelle Shumate, highlight the significance of guanxi to help … Continue reading NNSI Research Report: How to Expand Chinese NGO Collaborative Partnerships?
by: Katherine Cooper Not too long ago, I sat in on a meeting of local leaders as they wrestled with an education initiative that they were trying to implement in the community. Although the group’s goal sounded simple enough – introducing literacy programming into existing school and community projects – the conversation soon became complicated. … Continue reading “Wicked” problems: What are they, and why are they of interest to NNSI researchers?
A team at NNSI is conducting a research project to examine how Global 500 Fortune Corporations implement Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs and form partnerships with nonprofits and government agencies to help relieve the global refugee crisis. In the recent International Communication Association Conference (May 2018) which took place in Prague, there was a related … Continue reading Communication Touchstones: The Cycles of Emotion in Human Service Work with Refugee Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence
Nonprofit mergers are often presented as a last-ditch attempt to save organizations that would otherwise be forced to close. A new study on nonprofit mergers instead explores the possibility of mergers as a nonprofit strategy to achieve mission and increase outcomes. NNSI researchers Kate Cooper and Rey Maktoufi worked with Professor Don Haider of the … Continue reading Nonprofit Merger Study released: Implications for nonprofit management
Prof. Rob van Tulder of the Partnership Resource Center at the Rotterdam School of Management asked this question during the typically questions and answer session following my presentation at the Cross-Sector Social Interactions conference at the Copenhagen Business School. It’s a loaded question, with proponents of collective impact publishing reports like this one (http://sparkpolicy.com/collective-impact-impact-cross-site-study-25-collective-impact-initiatives/) and … Continue reading Is collective impact just another management fad?
By: Michelle Shumate I teach a class entitled Nonprofit Communication Management to a group of Northwestern undergraduates each year. What makes this class unique, and one of the highlights of my regular teaching year, is that I bring nonprofit clients into the classroom. The students’ final projects focus on real issues that nonprofit organizations are … Continue reading The Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders
By Rong Wang During one of the keynote speeches at the Cross-Sector Social Interaction Symposium in June, the Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council spoke addressed some of the major challenges faced in their line of work. One challenge discussed was about how to move from traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) path to create … Continue reading Why are corporations reluctant to collaborate with each other in the global refugee relief effort?
By: Anne-Marie Boyer We live in a society obsessed with numbers. In this day and age of big data, no longer are conversations around metrics and quantification limited to Silicon Valley or Wall Street. The social impact sector is also expected to legitimize and improve its efforts through strategies that involve iterative evaluation and assessment. … Continue reading What’s the (data-use) impact of Collective Impact on Nonprofits?
By: Katherine Cooper In recent years, funders and consultants have emphasized building nonprofit capacity – that is, the processes, practices, and people that a nonprofit has at its disposal that enables it to produce, perform, or deploy resources to achieve its mission. Many organizations have developed their own tools for assessing capacity; however, despite having … Continue reading NNSI Research Report: The Nonprofit Capacities Instrument
Innovation has become a buzzword for nonprofit organizations seeking to obtain funding, improve service delivery, and enhance performance. In this research, we asked one question: how can nonprofit organizations be more innovative? To answer this question, we conducted surveys among a random sample of 2,000 nonprofit organizations with a revenue above $250,000 in the United … Continue reading NNSI Research Report: Catalyzing Organizational Innovation in the Nonprofit Sector
By: Michelle Shumate, J. Sophia Fu, Katherine R. Cooper Over the past several decades, nonprofits have been encouraged to partner with other organizations to increase their capacity and effectiveness. Funders and nonprofit consultants alike take for granted that partnering with nonprofits, businesses, and governments breeds nonprofit capacity, defined as the “processes, practices, and people that … Continue reading Does cross-sector collaboration lead to higher nonprofit capacity?
by: Michelle Shumate As nonprofits consider partnering with businesses in a variety of ways, including sponsorships, cause-marketing, or more integrative arrangements, two important questions emerge. First, which businesses should they partner with? Second, how many business partnerships do most nonprofits maintain and talk about? In other words, how many is too many? Shumate, Hsieh and … Continue reading NNSI Research Report: Nonprofit Business Relationships
by Katherine Cooper Here at NNSI, we hear a lot about collective impact – what is it? What role should nonprofits play in collective impact? Our researchers have been interested in this phenomenon for some time; this week, we provide an overview of what we know about collective impact – and our efforts to explore … Continue reading Collective Impact: What is it, and why is it of interest to NNSI researchers?
by Sophia Fu While some scholars argue that the Internet is transforming China’s civil society landscape, a recent study by NNSI researchers challenges this claim. Sophia Fu and Michelle Shumate studied the websites of 410 Chinese nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and how Chinese NGOs hyperlinked with each other in 2014. Their findings suggest that Chinese NGOs … Continue reading NNSI Research Report: Civil Society 2.0? Winners and Losers on the Chinese Internet
By: Jack Harris How do funders make decisions about which projects, organizations, or people to fund? Melina Moleskis, Ines Alegre, and Miguel Angel Canela in Crowdfunding Entrepreneurial or Humanitarian Needs: The Influence of Signals and Biases on Decisions provide some guidance and data on how funders on the crowdfunding platform, Kiva, make funding and lending … Continue reading What factors influence a funder’s decision-making process?