Nonprofit@UWW

22 Feb

Meanings of “Community” in Fundraising

By Ruth Hansen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

The idea of “community” is an important one to those who engage in philanthropy, whether as donors, volunteers, fundraisers, or in another capacity. Years ago, when I chaired the marketing committee for the Chicago chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, our membership advertisement ran with the headline, “Philanthropy Builds Community.”

But what do we mean by “community”? Social psychologists find that we use “community” to refer to shared social norms, social bonds, location, behavior, or even to a situation that provides what we need to live a good life.[1] The experience of feeling a sense of community includes both feeling like we have what we need, but also feeling a sense of responsibility for others, which tracks well with our ideas of philanthropy.[2]

In a recent study, I explored how fundraisers used the word “community” when talking about their craft.[3] The most common meanings were:

  • People within a geographic area
  • A geographic location
  • The circumstances within which people live
  • A broader group of people, not affiliated with the fundraiser’s organization
  • A group with something in common, such as a profession, ethnicity, a shared interest, not necessarily bound by geography

The way fundraisers spoke about “community” also revealed some defining expectations.

  1. Community is something to which one contributes.
  2. A community provides social and/ or financial support to its members.
  3. Community involves an expectation that all who contribute will also benefit in some way – in other words, there is an expectation of reciprocity.
  4. People within communities interact with each other.
  5. Community requires (and may foster) social cohesion.

It’s easy to think of fundraising narrowly in terms of seeking financial resources to accomplish a charitable purpose. But that sense of responsibility for others, that mutuality in providing what we collectively need to live a good life, is an aspect that ties philanthropy and community together and presents them as a gift to benefit everyone who participates.

If you’d like to hear more, click here for a recording of my Lightning Talk at the UW-W Andersen Library.


[1] Mannarini, T., & Fedi, A. (2009). Multiple senses of community: The experience and meaning of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(2), 211-227.

[2] Nowell, B., & Boyd, N. (2010). The theoretical roots of psychological sense of community. Journal of Community Psychology, 38(7), 828-841.

[3] Hansen, R.K. (2020). Constructing “Community” in Fundraising Communications: Implicit Meanings and Mechanisms. Paper presented at ARNOVA Conference (virtual), November.

27 Jan

The Impact of Internships

The Nonprofit Management program at UW-Whitewater offers paid internships for students in the emphasis to provide real-world experience that complements classroom instruction. December 2021 graduate Theresa Mendoza, and senior Rebecca Cohen had the following to say about the impact of their internships.

“My internship with Meals on Wheels has been the most influential of my previous coursework. I’m thankful to have been able to play a part in ensuring over 800 clients receive their meals from a friendly face at their door every day. I worked with the Volunteer Coordinator to manage the 60+ volunteers that come through the office daily, assisted with planning and coordination of a fundraiser and a few events, and built a solid network base within the organization. I received firsthand experience in what a successful nonprofit organization looks like and how it operates. This opportunity has allowed me to set a standard when it comes to my work environment and the type of organizational structure underlying it. There were several times I recalled something I had learned in class as it applies to the moment. Navigating a work environment, working with a team to achieve a common goal, assessment of a situation and evaluation of what needs to change, and more enabled me to apply my classroom knowledge to real life circumstances. My time with the organization enhanced my professional and interpersonal skills and behavior in a work setting. This combination will help me better prepare as I enter the workforce after Graduation.” -Theresa Mendoza

“Throughout my internship at Bethel House, I have gained and developed so much in terms of my skills and just myself as a person. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and have accomplished things that would’ve seemed impossible to me a year ago. At the start, when I heard that Kristy (my supervisor) would be going on a 6-week sabbatical, I couldn’t imagine working without having guidance; but after a few weeks, I was able to do things on my own and became so much more self-sufficient! It was an unforgettable experience to be involved in the actual operations of a nonprofit and to have direct contact with the Board of Directors. During the duration of my internship, I became more confident, more skilled, and happier as a person. I’ve always wanted to help others and I am so grateful for my internship at Bethel House, where I can help make a difference in the community. Fast forward to the end of fall semester and I actually received a job offer from Bethel House to be their first employee! I’ve made so many connections and have had the opportunity to step into different roles during my internship, that now being an actual employee is a whole new experience in itself. I am beyond excited to see where this opportunity takes me and cannot wait to learn more and gain more experience with this nonprofit.” -Rebecca Cohen

If you are interested in the Nonprofit Management program, please contact Program Coordinator Dr. Ruth K. Hansen at hansenru@uww.edu. If you are already a Nonprofit Management student and would like to be considered for an internship, please contact Internship Coordinator Megan Matthews at matthewm@uww.edu.

16 Dec

Senior Brittany Marks Reflects on Internship with UWW Foundation

Brittany Marks

Overall, my internship with the UW-Whitewater Foundation, Inc. has been the highlight of this semester. I was able to learn so much from everyone in the office. I have had the opportunity to process donations, assist with mini campaigns, work on stewardship projects, and more. I have been able to practice the materials I learned last semester in my Fundraising for Charities class and experience everything first hand. This not only solidified my knowledge, but also helped me gain confidence in my abilities to apply the knowledge that I have learned to real world situations.

10 Dec

McNair Scholar Alissa Santana Pursues Research on Latinx Arts Nonprofits

Alissa Santana

My work with the McNair Scholars Program has given me the opportunity to further explore my passions and some of the inquiries I have in regard to fundraising and marketing to the Latinx community. I have found and witnessed how the Latinx community is under-recognized when being marketed to by organizations and how it has become an “additional source of revenue” for some. With the community becoming more recognized, I have started to conduct research, under the mentorship of Dr. Ruth Hansen, on “The Distinctiveness of Fundraising to Latinx Arts Organizations” to see what is distinctive to organizations existing fundraising practices. Recently, I have presented my current work at the 49th Annual ARNOVA Conference, which allowed me to gain valuable feedback and encouragement about my current research plan. As I am preparing to take the next steps in the interview process, I am both excited and interested to see some of the responses that Arts Administrators and Foundation Program Officers will have, as well as some of the barriers that are faced. I anticipate and hope that this study will help people better understand organization’s strategies and the characteristics of fundraising to Latinx audiences and donors.

04 Aug

COVID-19 Impacts on Wisconsin’s Nonprofit Sector

The UW-Whitewater Institute for Nonprofit Management Studies and the Helen Bader Institute at UW-Milwaukee are co-leading a statewide series of surveys of COVID-19 impacts on the nonprofit sector, a collaborative effort that includes a number of participating UW-system researchers.

In April, the first of three surveys was launched, garnering over 500 responses from leaders in nonprofits from all regions. Institute Director Dr. Carol Brunt contributed to the production of the first state-level report released on May 18th and co-authored the Human Services sector-specific report.  Megan Matthews contributed to the sector-specific report on how COVID-19 is impacting Wisconsin nonprofit Arts organizations, as part of the larger statewide research.  One of the goals of a sector-specific report is to gain stories of how organizations within a sector are being impacted by COVID-19 financially, programmatically and in the area of human resources.

The second survey is available through August 9 – click here to participate. Results from the second survey will be available in late August.

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13 Jul

Learning Skills for Today’s Nonprofit Workplace

(UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Students in UW-W’s Fundraising for Charities course (Management 371), offered for the first time this spring, had planned to learn the theories of fundraising and philanthropists’ motivations, as well as a practical toolkit for ethical fundraising. The course gives students experience working with basic fundraising tools, such as writing appeal letters and creating event plans.

The unscheduled pandemic offered one more learning opportunity: applying good fundraising technique to unanticipated disruptions.

As part of a portfolio of written sample fundraising pieces, each student imagined how investing in technology could help a chosen charity navigate the service challenges presented by COVID-19, and prepared a letter proposal seeking funding for the project. Projects needed to tie into the organization’s mission, describe the anticipated outcomes, timeline, and budget, and explain how the project not only met current urgent needs, but was also a good investment for the organization in the long term.

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30 Jun

Year-end Update on Internships

(UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner)

Over the Spring semester, UW-W nonprofit students worked with the UW-Whitewater Foundation and a local organization that serves families at risk of being homeless. While students’ experiences did not go as originally planned due to COVID disruptions, interns were able to finish their work remotely.

We have had discussions with several area nonprofits about future internships, and continually cultivate relationships for future opportunities as interest in our program grows. Currently, we are exploring the concept of virtual internships, and opportunities available for students in Fall 2020 and beyond!

If you are a student interested in an internship, contact Megan Matthews at matthewm@uww.edu to discuss details.

If you are a nonprofit interested in hosting an intern, contact either Megan Matthews (matthewm@uww.edu) or Carol Brunt (bruntc@uww.edu) to discuss the program.

Follow us on Twitter! @NonprofitUWW

18 Feb

Join Us in Montreal!

The Nonprofit Management program at UW-W is collaborating with The Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management  at the upcoming 2020 conference of the International Society of Third-Sector Research (ISTR) in Montreal, Quebec!  Together, we’re sponsoring a day-long workshop entitled:

Human Resource Management & Employee Relations in the Nonprofit Sector: A Comparative Look at Practice

We are seeking two Wisconsin-based nonprofit professionals with extensive experience in nonprofit HR and/or volunteer management practice to take part in a round table discussion on major HR & employment trends, dimensions, and issues in nonprofit organizations across North America.  The scholarship will cover round trip airfare to Montreal from Milwaukee, 2 nights lodging (July 8-10), and registration to the ISTR conference.

Please note that some meals will be provided as part of the conference registration. Remaining meals will be at the recipients’ own expense.

Scholarship application deadline is March 6, 2020.

Applicants will need to submit a letter of interest and current resume. Applicants must have a current passport.

Questions? Contact Bryce Lord, Associate Director, HBI at balord@uwm.edu or (414) 229-3176.

Ready to apply?  Click here!  

Follow us on Twitter @NonprofitUWW and Instagram @Cobenonprofit !

18 Oct

Matthews Presents at Association of Arts Administration Educators

This summer, lecturer Megan Matthews was part of a panel presentation at the Association of Arts Administration Educators on the topic of how universities launch new programs.  The panel, “…By Any Other Name…”, was created in response to recent research about how programs choose their names, what kind of political and administrative realities affect creation of new programs, and how several programs have navigated through the process of starting up.  In choosing names, programs tend to use terms that

  • Describe the program
  • Distinguish the program from competitors
  • Avoid crossing institutional boundaries.

But questions remain – especially about whether and how a name might impact curriculum and outcomes.  For instance,

  • Does an entrepreneurship program aim to produce a different kind of graduate than a management program?
  • Do enterprise alumni have different career goals than administration alumni? 
  • Do graduates of a leadership program hold a unique world view?

Megan shared data from research conducted on a Creative Enterprise program she has helped to develop at UW-W. 

As UW-Whitewater launches the Nonprofit Management minor this fall, we’re sure that it smells pretty sweet – but we’ll continue to monitor evolving understandings of whether a new program by any other name would also be just as rosy.

PHOTO CREDIT : UW-WHITEWATER PHOTO/CRAIG SCHREINER

Follow us on Twitter! @NonprofitUWW

22 Mar

Navis, Lewis present at UW-W Undergraduate Research Day

One of the enduring critical issues of societies across time is how to care for those in need. Who is responsible for providing care? Who is responsible for funding it?

Alexandra Lewis (Left) and Mariah Navis (Right) with Research Poster

We know that charitable giving isn’t evenly spread across the nonprofit sector. What can published accounts tell us about what Americans consider less worthy of donations? Over this academic year, students Alexandra Lewis ’18 and Mariah Navis ’19 have been working with Dr. Ruth Hansen to replicate a study first done in the United Kingdom by Dr. Ali Body and Dr. Beth Breeze, using published accounts as a proxy to determine which charities and causes are considered unpopular or unworthy by the general public. Alex and Mariah presented the study’s preliminary results at the UW-W Undergraduate Research Day on March 21.

We Get Our Kicks at Booth 76

Preliminary findings show some differences between the list generated by reviewing UK media and the one reviewing US media.  For instance, US articles identified Confederate heritage as an unpopular cause.  Articles on the topic started appearing in 2015, after a mass shooting in a historic black church in Charleston, SC prompted national debate on displaying the Confederate flag and other monuments to the Confederacy.

Mariah and Alex will also present preliminary findings at the system-wide undergraduate research symposium, held this April at UW-Green Bay. The research team plans to conclude analysis this spring.

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