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ARNOVA's 42nd Annual Conference

Hartford, Connecticut
November 21-23, 2013

Since the late 2000s, the world has become a constant changing and turbulent place. Economic crises have arisen across the globe, creating high levels of need at a time when public and philanthropic dollars are becoming scarcer. Advances in technology and communication have facilitated social movements, challenging and even bringing down governments from Wall Street to Cairo. People come together for causes across boundaries—gathering internationally and virtually to try to address wicked problems such as climate change, individual rights, and poverty. In a world that is facing constant change and weathering these turbulent forces, it is important for scholars to reflect on how have nonprofit organizations, NGOs, social movements, and other forms of voluntary action been affected by the economic and social turbulence of the past five years?

Considering this question, one focus could be on understanding the impact of the economic recession on nonprofit organizations in the United States and other countries. The need for many services provided by nonprofit organizations has dramatically increased at a time when resources are becoming increasingly hard to secure. What has been the impact of this on the budget of nonprofits? On how they prioritize service needs? On how they communicate with funders and other key stakeholders? In these tough economic times, nonprofits have even been asked to step into areas traditionally handled by government—helping government keep public services afloat as government struggles to balance its budget. Exploring how the economic recession has affected nonprofit organizational operations is one possible focus for addressing the conference theme.

In this age of turbulence, we are facing serious problems that cross societal and geographic boundaries. Technological changes have changed the way in which people come together at the grassroots to spark dialogue and change. Revolutions have been launched in the virtual landscape, bringing people together to protest injustice, call for change,
and even challenge sitting governments. How have new forms of communication changed how people engage in voluntary action? How has the composition of social movements changed in the networked world? Exploring how people have responded to the economic and social turbulence facing communities is another possible focus for addressing the conference theme.

In countries around the world, the associational revolution continues to break new ground. In Asia, China’s civil society sector has developed from almost nothing three decades ago into one that includes nearly half million officially registered nonprofits and millions of grassroots organizations today. In Africa, the Arab Spring seems to have tilled the soil for the future growth of civil society organizations in these countries. Despite these developments, there are also increasing concerns about the accountability and sustainability of NGOs as well as doubts about the substantive contributions that these organizations make to their societies. To what extent do civil society organizations have the capacity to provide services in response to meet growing societal needs, while at the same time resist subordination to the state and participate in public policy processes?

Exploring questions like these will be one focus for our Conference next November. We hope to encourage a public conversation about matters of such importance to our fields. One track will be devoted to this Conference theme to create a shared exploration of these ideas, issues, and questions. We encourage submissions that cross the many areas of focus in ARNOVA, from grassroots action, formal nonprofit organizational operations, NGOs, and social movements. In addition, ARNOVA’s Annual Research Conference will, as always, be a key opportunity to present and discuss the latest research on the wide range of topics relating to nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, voluntary action and civil society.

The full text of the "Call for Participation," with a list of the thematic Tracks for proposals and presentations, can be found on ARNOVA’s website (

In addition, ARNOVA’s Annual Research Conference will, as always, be a key opportunity to present and discuss the latest research on the wide range of topics relating to nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, voluntary action and civil society.

The conference committee welcomes proposals addressing a broad variety of topics, in addition to the theme. We invite proposals from all disciplinary (and interdisciplinary) perspectives. We are very interested in international as well as national and local perspectives. Proposals may focus on the entire sector, or on any type of nonprofit or field of activity. We look forward to entertaining a wide variety of proposals, and invite you to submit yours. We particularly welcome younger scholars and members of under-represented groups to make their interests known to the conference organizers so we can include you in our community.


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