Our spring newsletter culminates an academic year which featured the launch of the $450,000 New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows program under the direction of Distinguished Lecturer Michael Seltzer and also the release of a new study of international NGOs located in New York City by Assistant Professor Cristina Balboa and her colleagues. Seltzer describes the Leadership Fellows in this edition of the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management newsletter, and Professor Balboa is profiled by Juan-Carlos Nordelo, Graduate Assistant in the Center. Another highlight is the imminent launch of The Nonprofit World: Civil Society and the Rise of the Nonprofit Sector by Professor John Casey, who describes his new book on nonprofit organizations in a global context.
Professor Emeritus Fred Lane writes about an important new job secured by alumna Jane Ransom as Executive Director of the American Brain Foundation, her seventh time leading a nonprofit. Baruch Professor of Sociology Susan Chambre writes about “Trends in Volunteering,” one of her specialties. She is also the Editor of the Center’s Working Papers series, to which you might consider contributing work-in-progress. Write Susan at email@example.com.
Finally, Internship Director Michael Feller presents a selection of undergraduate, graduate, and Washington internships currently held by students at the School of Public Affairs. We hope you enjoy these articles, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Jack Krauskopf, Distinguished Lecturer and Director
Nicole Marwell, Associate Professor and Academic Director
The New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows
By Michael Seltzer, Distinguished Lecturer and director of The New York Community Trust Leadership Fellow, School of Public Affairs
On March 11, 2015, thirty of tomorrow’s nonprofit leaders arrived at Baruch as the first New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows. Their goal is to acquire the knowledge that will enable them to build successful organizations that can effectively address some of the most important issues facing New Yorkers. This inaugural cohort of Fellows is receiving a rich five-month professional development opportunity made possible by a $450,000 grant from The New York Community Trust. The Trust’s initiative is one of the largest grants ever awarded by a foundation in New York for equipping emerging nonprofit leaders with management and leadership skills.
The New York Community Trust chose the Baruch College School of Public Affairs to design and operate this groundbreaking program. During the course of the program, fellows are taking classes with School of Public Affairs professors and seasoned practitioners. The program includes monthly Dean’s Dinners featuring guest speakers from government, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector. Fellows also are paired with mentors to coach them on designing and implementing initiatives that address a critical challenge or opportunity facing their organizations.
The Trust decided to launch this initiative to ensure that its grantees had a sufficiently trained new generation of employees to replace the baby boomers who are retiring at rapid numbers. In 2006, The Bridgespan Group reported that by 2016, nonprofit organizations across the country would need almost 80,000 new senior managers per year. With more than 40,000 nonprofits in the New York metropolitan area, the challenge is particularly serious to our nonprofit sector.
While it is premature to weigh in on the program’s overall impact, initial responses from fellows are positive. One fellow noted: “It’s been a great space to learn, to network, to test out critical thinking and skills, as well as to be exposed to literature and ideas about the field. The class has also been a wonderful space to allow ourselves a chance to be fascinated, to wonder and to dream”.
More information on The New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows can be found at trustleadership.org
Profile: Jane Ransom, MPA, Nonprofit Turnaround Artist
By Frederick S. Lane, Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs
The announcement that the American Brain Foundation has selected Jane B. Ransom as its Executive Director was no surprise back at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, where she received her MPA degree. She starts her new job on June 1, 2015.
This will be Jane’s 7th time as a nonprofit CEO, unprecedented among Baruch graduates. A self-described “serial nonprofit CEO,” Jane is also a wife and mother, a feminist, a leader who believes in work/life balance.
The story of Jane’s career is fascinating, focusing on nonprofit management, fundraising, and philanthropic leadership. Jane was Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights when she was an MPA student in the early 1980s, and then she took over as Executive Director of Woodside on the Move, a community development nonprofit in Queens.
In 1989, Jane became President and CEO of the pioneering nonprofit, Women & Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy, an advocate for women in positions of philanthropic leadership and the nation’s largest association of executives and trustees of foundations.
When her husband accepted a position teaching political theory at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Jane had to look for a new job. She became Executive Director of Central Pennsylvania Legal Services in Harrisburg, PA, with a staff of 67 in seven Pennsylvania counties.
From there she moved to Minneapolis to become President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, initiating a strategic plan to establish innovative statewide grant-making programs. When her husband was offered an opportunity in Italy, Jane stepped down to become Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Women’s Foundation – working remotely, with periodic trips to Minneapolis -- which led to the Minnesota Women in Business Changemaker Award. (Perhaps influenced by his time in Italy, Jane’s son is now a graduate student and teaches Italian at the University of Pittsburgh.)
Returning to the States in 2006, Jane became Executive Director of the International Women’s Media Foundation in Washington, DC, for three years. Working with 5,000 members worldwide, Jane had a staff of 12 and an annual budget of $4.5 million; she also garnered major support from the Howard Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. Journalists like Judy Woodruff and Christiane Amanpour were board members.
Jane then returned to Pennsylvania to accept the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. This involved 30,000 members, 75 permanent and another 100 seasonal staff, 6 offices and 7 camp properties, and, perhaps most important, an organizational turnaround within three years from a $3 million operating deficit to a debt-free, financially-stable organization. Yes, these scouts sold some $7 million in Girl Scout cookies annually.
Jane sees herself as a turnaround artist with the abilities to analyze an organization and its environment and lead a rapid change. At the American Brain Foundation (ABF), the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Neurology, Jane will have good company in moving ABF forward; former Vice President Walter Mondale is the Honorary Board Chair and Super Bowl Champion Ben Utech serves as national spokesperson, especially about traumatic brain injury.
As for her Baruch MPA, Jane feels strongly, “The MPA gave me both a lot of theory about organizations that I had never thought about as well as a wonderful set of practical ideas.” “Jane was a sensational graduate student, tops in her class,” recalled Fred Lane, Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs, “and she has become a role model for all who have followed her remarkable career as a serial nonprofit CEO.”
Trends in Volunteering
By Susan M. Chambré, Professor of Sociology, Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and Editor of the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management (CNSM) Working Papers Series, School of Public Affairs
Over the past twenty years, there has been a lively debate about whether Americans are less involved in social and civic activities. Robert Putnam sparked this discussion and presented a broad array of data indicating decreased civic and social engagement. In a forthcoming CNSM Working Paper paper entitled “Has Volunteering Changed? An Historical Study of Volunteer Patterns and Motivations,” I present survey data to inform this discussion. Based on a series of surveys conducted between 1965 and 2013, the paper tracks changes in overall volunteer rates, time commitments and motivations.
There was, in fact, a substantial increase in volunteering between 1965 and 1974 from 16.1% to 24.7%. Since then, volunteer participation has been relatively stable: it was 25.4% in 2013. This trend is surprising given the significant public and philanthropic resources which have been devoted to programs designed to increase volunteering. The stable overall rate masks important shifts among volunteers. Women reduced their participation and time commitments as more of them entered the labor force. This decrease was offset by growing numbers of older people who devote time to volunteering. In addition, while most volunteers continue to devote relatively small amounts of time over the course of a year – one in five people spent 14 hours or less volunteering during a year – a growing proportion has devoted large blocks of time: 6% of volunteers in 2013 reported that they spent nearly ten or more hours each week.
There have also been important shifts in people’s motivations. The most common reason is a desire to help people. This motive has risen in importance over time. Paradoxically, many more people report that they became involved in volunteering because someone asked them to participate or because the organization or activity benefits a member of their family.
The growing participation of older people in volunteering has been a central theme in my research. Recent work with F. Ellen Netting, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University, offers a critique of past and current programs designed to tap the time and the talents of baby boomers as they move into retirement. In another CNSM Working Paper paper entitled “Will Baby Boomers Transform Civic Engagement?” we review the cultural and policy changes that contributed to increases in volunteering by older persons during the last half century. Within the next five years, over 32 million “leading edge” boomers will reach the age of 65. Of special interest to nonprofits is whether these individuals will expand their involvement in volunteering as they age and if they will “reinvent” aging. We challenge several predictions offered by a number of commentators, suggesting that the baby boom generation is diverse and its members will become involved in volunteer work because of their personal connections to organizations and causes, rather than as a substitute for working. We also note that there are different styles of successful aging, and that volunteer programs need to provide a diverse set of opportunities to contribute to higher levels of health and well-being for baby boomers.
Faculty Spotlight with Assistant Professor, Cristina M. Balboa
By Juan Carlos Nordelo, Graduate Assistant, CNSM, School of Public Affairs
Cristina M. Balboa, Assistant Professor at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs wants to understand the role of nonprofit organizations in an increasingly global climate. We catch up with her to discuss the intersection of her varied academic interests, her extensive work in international/domestic nonprofits, and her latest study on international non-governmental organizations in New York City.
Can you tell me how your varied academic interests intersect with one another and how they inform your current research?
Over the past 20 years I’ve worked on reforestation projects in Ecuador, the coral reefs in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and my current area of transnational nongovernmental organizations. In each of these areas, my work examines power relationships and the processes and tools that address power disparities: at the household level studying gender and development in Ecuador; between fishers, middlemen, and consumers in the aquarium fish industry; and between NGOs, their funders, and the communities they aim to serve. Transitioning from working in NGOs (for almost a decade) to studying them as an academic, gives me a broader vantage point for helping NGOs better serve their constituencies through developing practical ideas of accountability and capacity. You might say my focus over the years has moved “upstream,” from individuals and selected issues to the large and growing field of organizations focused on helping a multitude of individuals and addressing the biggest social ills.
What are some of the similarities and differences that you experienced while working in domestic and international nonprofit organizations?
I think the biggest challenge to nonprofits or NGOs is reconciling the context and norms in which they are created with the contexts and norms in which their constituencies (or beneficiaries) live and operate. U.S., or Tanzania, or Papua New Guinea, or France: no organization is an island. They all work with others, from near or afar. They all get support from external sources. They all serve people that have similarities and differences to the organizations’ staff, board, and volunteers. Both transnational and domestic NGOs need the tools to bridge differences capably. The book I’m currently writing digs into all these issues in much greater detail.
Can you tell us what prompted you to conduct your latest study on international NGOS in New York City?
Baruch’s Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management is well known for its focus on NYC nonprofits. Those of us who study or work in international NGOs know that New York City is an important center for the international sector, so it was surprising when we could not find any data on the extent of the international NGO sector in the city. We used data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics to develop a baseline assessment of what the sector looks like in NYC compared to other cities and the country as a whole. I think this study goes far in improving our understanding of the sector so that our capacity-building, networking, and research agenda can be more refined and NYC-specific. The report is free online at http://tinyurl.com/INGONYC
In August 2015, CNSM faculty John Casey will launch his new book The Nonprofit World: Civil Society and the Rise of the Nonprofit Sector.
The book explores the growth of the nonprofit sector within almost every country in the world, as well as the expanding global reach of international nonprofit organizations. It examines the increasingly influential role not only of prominent NGOs that work on hot-button global issues, but also of the thousands of smaller, little-known organizations that have an impact on people's daily lives.
What do these nonprofits actually do? How and why have they grown exponentially? How are they managed and funded? What organizational, political, and economic challenges do they face? The book seeks to answer these questions and situates the evolution of the nonprofit sector in the broader contexts of differing national environments and global public affairs. Nonprofits not only fight poverty, protect the environment and promote human rights, they also set international safety standards, manage world sports, promote cultural exchanges, and foster international dialogues on hobbies.
With its broad perspective, The Nonprofit World affords readers a thorough understanding of the implications of the growing importance of civil society and the nonprofit sector. The initial chapters of the book focus on the comparative study of the nonprofit sectors around the globe by analyzing the different national environments in which contemporary nonprofits operate, and the similarities and differences between them. The focus then shifts to the international dimensions of nonprofit work, highlighting the work of humanitarian aid, relief and development organizations, as well as global advocacy nonprofits and others that seek to create communities of common interests. The final part of the book speculates about the future trends impacting the nonprofit sector around the world
The book has numerous short case studies and examples that will allow readers to become familiar with the work of many small and large nonprofit around the world and to develop greater insights into the many challenges they face. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the spectacular growth of the nonprofits in the last 30 years and learning how they operate.
For information on ordering the book, see:
Internship for Students at the School of Public Affairs
By Michael Feller, Internship Director, School of Public Affairs
Graduate and undergraduate students at the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management have the great benefit of working with SPA’s internship director, Professor Michael Feller, to secure exciting internships in nonprofit and governmental organizations. These opportunities help students build their skills and gain practical knowledge alongside their classroom studies. Here is a sample of CNSM students’ spring 2015 internship placements:
Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House
- Year Up
- Reach Out & Read
- NoHo NYC BID
- Global Fund for Women
- Pro Mujer
- Global Kids
- NY Live Arts
- Bronx Corridors
Graduate students – New York City placements
- NYU Medical Center
- International Rescue Committee
- JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropy
- Pro Mujer
- Westend Residences
- NY Harbor VA Hospital
- Capalino & Co.
Graduate students – Washington, D.C. placements
- Global Fund for Children
- Vera Institute of Justice
- Microfinance Opportunities, Inc.
On a very sad note, we deeply regret the death of our colleague Peter Dobkin Hall, who as a leading scholar of nonprofit history and policy shaped the nonprofit field and aided the academic careers of many of its best