From April 18 to May 4, students completing coursework for the Master of Nonprofit Studies (NPS) degree presented their capstone projects to their readers. Capstone presentations were open to members of the SPCS community. The capstone project is a course requirement for NPS 590U Integrative Seminar, the final course in the nonprofit studies curriculum.

The University of Richmond School of Professional & Continuing Studies (SPCS) Nonprofit Studies program is necessarily focused on the community that is served by nonprofit organizations. As a result, sharing these capstone projects offers a window into the kind of research projects our students organize and manage during their tenure as students.

Presentations lasted about an hour and included a question and answer session with readers and attendees. We did not receive abstracts and title slides from all presenters, but title and presenter name are included for all presenters.

Perspectives on Sabbatical and Job Satisfaction in Nonprofit Organizations

Beth Anne Spacht, GC’18

Title slideFor mission-driven organizations with limited resources to invest in employee salary and development, retaining top talent is a critical challenge. The monetary toll of turnover is particularly harmful to small organizations, which make up 66.3 percent of the nonprofit sector. To keep staff satisfied and incentivized to stay, nonprofits need to innovate creative new strategies to retain employees. The nonprofit sabbatical, a period of rest and renewal given to reward years of service, is one possible solution to reduce burnout and reward longevity. This exploratory study investigated the benefits and challenges of nonprofit sabbaticals in relation to theories of job satisfaction. To gather perspectives on the sabbatical experience, the researcher conducted cross-industry interviews with prior sabbatical recipients, nonprofit human resource practitioners, and direct service nonprofit staff. The research goal was to deepen general understanding of the sabbatical experience, including conditions for and barriers to success. This study reports the findings, compiles recommendations for the best ways to implement sabbaticals in nonprofit organizations, and examines the implications of sabbatical for various stakeholders. It is the hope of the researcher that this study will help nonprofits to consider how the sabbatical reward might motivate overall job satisfaction for employees in mission-driven roles.

Turning Talk into Action: An Investigation of Men’s Motivations to Become Mentors

Andrea Makriyianis GC’18

Becoming Active Citizens: Motivations to Volunteer Among Students in a Liberal Arts College

Jessica Y. Washington, GC’18

title slideNonprofit organizations exist to meet community needs—often competing against 1.5 million other nonprofits for resources (e.g., money and staff). Consequently, these charitable organizations rely on volunteers to support critical functions, such as fundraising and service provision. Without effective volunteer recruitment strategies, nonprofits may fail to attract the human capital needed for these functions. Furthermore, undergraduate students—conduits of the democratic purpose of higher education—represent a special group of volunteers (who also volunteer at twice the rate of their non-college attending peers). Understanding the motivations to volunteer of undergraduate students enrolled in liberal arts colleges provides implications for future research, volunteer recruitment efforts (for both higher education and the nonprofit sector), as well as implications for required volunteering and enhancing the volunteer experience (and reducing barriers). An online survey was used to gather this information—data was collected and analyzed from 88 participants (undergraduate students from a liberal arts college in Richmond, Virginia) that had recently volunteered. This study supported relevant literature on motivations to volunteer—students were: 1) motivated to volunteer for a number or mix of reasons, and 2) altruistic motivations (e.g., humanitarian values) were the greatest influence on decisions to volunteer. This research also supported the importance of understanding, enhancement, career, and social motivations to volunteer; whereas recognition, protective, and requirement were the least influential motivations to volunteer among students in a liberal arts college.

The Challenge of Rural Education: An Exploration of Rural Nonprofit Charter Schools

Robert Jack (RJ) Watters, GC’18

title slideThe goal of this research paper is to investigate what nonprofit charter schools are doing to combat the challenges of rural education in areas such as transportation, teacher retention, student achievement, and resource management. This research also qualitatively assesses the successes and failures of nonprofit charter schools in addressing these problems. Initially, the paper provides a research of the literature surrounding the challenges of rural education as well as the perceived benefits and drawbacks of nonprofit charter schools. After portraying both arguments, this paper uncovers five factors that affect nonprofit charter school impact in rural communities: power of autonomy, measuring effectiveness, community involvement, transportation, and prioritization of teachers. This paper utilizes these factors to help evaluate the successes and failures rural nonprofit charter schools have in addressing the needs of rural students. In the end, this paper asserts that further research is needed in order to determine if rural nonprofit charter schools are a uniform solution for addressing the challenges of rural education. However, this paper did determine that in certain cases, nonprofit charter schools could be considered by rural communities as an option for providing school choice and better serving the educational needs of the community.

Funding Small Nonprofit Organizations: Understanding the Community Perspectives of Giving

Brittany J. Andrews, GC’18

title slideSecuring funding for small nonprofits can become a hassle. However, if organizations are equipped with the knowledge of what motivates their donors to give and how they are perceived by their community, then it could help them come up with ideas and strategies in which they could use to help secure their funding. Utilizing the Qualtrics survey platform, data was collected and analyzed from 58 survey participants. From this analysis, three themes emerged: the relationship between donors and nonprofit organizations, donor motivations and donor perceptions. These findings identified mission, human services organizations and general support as some of the top motivators for individuals to donate to small nonprofit organizations. This research also implied that donor perceptions are ever changing and evolving with the changing nonprofit sector.

The Impact of Succession Planning: Transitioning the Next Generation of Leaders in Nonprofit Housing Organizations

Monica L. Jefferson, GC’18

title slideAs nonprofit housing agencies build capacity, an impending leadership deficit is of great concern. The aging Baby Boomers and their mass exodus from the affordable housing industry will have a significant impact on the nonprofit housing industry. The practices of succession management are a critical component of long-term organizational sustainability. Succession planning complements and leverages human resources strategies and programs like recruitment, training/development, and performance management. In this study, I interviewed and find that based on several discussions, succession planning assists nonprofit housing organizations to prepare leaders to navigate the course of a changing environment. Participants were recruited from the nonprofit housing organizations in the Metro Richmond area of Virginia identifying best practices and assessing organizational development. This study examines succession planning for the next generation of leadership to help prepare nonprofit housing organizations for staff succession.

Funder Perception of Start-Up Nonprofits and Giving: Does this Affect Growth and Sustainability?

Chris L. George, GC’18

title slideWith the rapid expansion of the nonprofit sector, there is approximately 43 percent of nonprofits that are not surviving past five years of operation. As there are many misconceptions about start-up organizations, this may affect their growth and financial viability. A qualitative study was conducted to understand the perception of start-up nonprofit organizations and how that may influence funder giving behaviors. Interviews were administered with three funders of Greater Richmond area foundations and corporations. Five major themes were developed from the findings to include mission alignment, life cycle stage, perception, elimination of bias, and organizational barriers and common mistakes. Funder perceptions proved to be relevant, however not a major factor in funder decision-making. Data was analyzed to report findings, implications, and recommendations useful for start-up organizations as well as funding establishments.

Family Oriented Care for Families of Chronically Ill Children: A Focus on Siblings

Mary Jo Bell, GC’18

Employee Retention Using Non-financial Means: Addressing Human Resource Challenges for Nonprofits

Jessie Munn

title slideEmployee retention can be problematic for any organization but when that organization is a nonprofit that needs to keep costs to a minimum, it can be even more of a challenge. The nonprofit sector is a diverse one made up of a wide range of very different kinds of organizations from foundations to trade associations, from cultural and arts institutions, to healthcare and social service providers. Many of these organizations have vast assets while others provide services that are not highly rewarded or funded. Often nonprofits count on their mission to attract and retain employees however, demands for more accountability and proof of program results are placing more pressure on nonprofit employees. Nonprofits are often regulated by organizational policy and limited funding, both of which contribute to lower financial rewards for employees. Low compensation and high workloads are then leading employees to set aside their desire to make a difference by fulfilling the organization’s mission, and instead leading them to pursue positions that offer more pay and less stress (Leon, Marainen, and Marcotte, 2001). Without the right employee in place, achieving the organizational mission is difficult, if not, impossible.

This research project explored the different research works that have been done in the area of employee retention to identify the various factors which affect retention in an organization. A qualitative method was used and semi-structured interviews were conducted with area nonprofits to identify the most effective nonfinancial means that could be implemented by nonprofit organizations to retain employees. The following are the findings, implications, and suggestions gained from the literature and a qualitative analysis of interview data.