As a former fundraising executive, my research is motivated by my desire to make fundraisers more productive and donors better understood. My areas of interest involve message framing by nonprofit organizations, how various social identifies affect how donors interpret and respond to those frames, and how research might be leveraged to better support nonprofit leaders working in rural communities and in small development shops.
Areas of Interest:
Message Framing in Nonprofit Communications
My dissertation explores the social contextual influences that affect both how fundraisers frame charitable appeal messages and how donors respond to those messages. Using a combination of an in-field experiment with professional fundraisers, content analysis, and an online behavioral experiment, I examine how several social factors affect fundraising effectiveness, fundraiser satisfaction, the types of message frame produced, as well as what specific linguistic elements result in favorable donor response. Initial results have been presented at conferences for the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) and Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).
Identity and Philanthropic Behavior
Much of my work involves the intersections of social identity and philanthropic behavior, particularly gender identity and religious identity. While a research assistant for the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), I assisted with quantitative and qualitative projects on gender differences in charitable giving; specifically, giving around retirement, distribution of giving across nonprofit subsectors, and high-net-worth donors’ support for women and girls. As part of my dissertation project, I’m using grounded theory methods to explore how the religious beliefs and practices of Catholic pro-choice female donors influence their charitable decisions, and how current pro-choice appeal messages affect that process. My research draws on theories related to social identity, individual decision-making, and feminist theory, among others.
As an instructor of both undergraduate academic courses and professional development workshops, I enjoy research on evidence-based, high impact practices. I recently co-authored a chapter titled “Teaching Philanthropy: Developing Critical and Compassionate Approaches to Giving,” to appear in the forthcoming book, Teaching Nonprofit Management. My work examining the role of mindfulness in service-learning instruction is currently under review.
Fundraisers and the Fundraising Profession
Outside of my doctoral dissertation research, I have explored topics relating to how fundraisers learn their craft, become socialized into the profession, and find professional supports. I am particularly interested in the unique challenges faced by fundraisers in small development shops and rural communities. My co-authored projects on fundraiser support and processes have been presented at conferences for ARNOVA and ISTR. My research on professional development and professional identity among fundraisers in rural Alaska will be presented at ARNOVA in 2019.
Qualitative & Quantitative Methodology Used:
- Content analysis
- Behavioral experiments, online and in-field
- Individual interviews
- Focus groups
Dissertation in Progress:
“Reading Between the Lines: Social Contextual Influences on the Production of and Response to Charitable Appeals”
Selected Training and Recognition:
Emerging Scholar Award, 2019
Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA)
Ph.D. Seminar, 13th International Conference in Amsterdam, 2018
International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR)