“I’m really excited to work with IS this year to learn from their terrific practitioner community and to translate research to practice in ways that will support nonprofit missions around advocacy and coalition work.” — Heather MacIndoe, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the McCormack School for Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston — and Independent Sector’s new Visiting Scholar
It is always exciting to be able to share news about the growing Independent Sector family. On August 1, Heather MacIndoe, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the McCormack School for Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, joined Independent Sector as our fourth Visiting Scholar.
The Visiting Scholar program was established at Independent Sector to integrate more intentionally and consistently the expertise and lived experience of both the academic and the practitioner community in our sector — all in service of a healthier, more equitable sector that is better equipped to serve our respective missions. Previous scholars, who joined us for a one-year term, have included Alan Abramson, Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University; Lewis Faulk, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy at American University; and Mirae Kim, Associate Professor at George Mason University.
We are now thrilled to have Heather with us. Here are some of the reasons why.
Heather is an organizational sociologist whose research focuses on nonprofit advocacy and philanthropy. She is particularly interested in how nonprofit organizations help to achieve policy change for the people they serve. Heather has conducted studies of nonprofit advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels. Her published research on nonprofit advocacy has investigated why nonprofits engage in policy advocacy, how organizational missions impact advocacy engagement, and how the policy environment shapes nonprofit political engagement. Heather’s recent research in this area seeks to understand how nonprofits that serve disadvantaged populations also represent their interests in the policy process. What tactical choices do these nonprofits make and how effective is their advocacy?
Heather also studies philanthropy, particularly philanthropic foundation grantmaking to nonprofits. She is interested in patterns of grantmaking over time and geographic space. In recent research, she finds that foundations tend to repeatedly fund nonprofits that already have significant capacity, accruing additional advantage to these organizations. Ongoing research is examining the spatial distribution of foundation grants in a sample of U.S. cities. Do foundations make grants where they are most needed? Do aspects of the neighborhood in which a nonprofit is located impact the likelihood they will be funded by foundations?
For the past year, Heather has been part of Independent Sector’s nonprofit advocacy and civic engagement research team, which just issued a report of survey findings. A recent research brief in The Conversation summarizes major findings of the study. Heather will continue to work with IS to disseminate the findings of this research to the public, nonprofit practitioners, and the scholarly community. Another part of her work as a Visiting Scholar will be to extend the findings of this project through in-depth qualitative interviews with survey respondents. These interviews will provide more context for the survey findings and help us better understand how and why nonprofits do or do not embrace policy advocacy. Finally, Heather will work with IS on a study of nonprofit advocacy coalitions. State and national advocacy coalitions have multiplied in the past two decades, yet we know relatively little about how coalitions manage conflicting priorities an
d select strategies to further nonprofit policy goals. Through conversations and interviews with IS stakeholders, Heather will help to fill this knowledge gap.
Heather is an Associate Editor of the journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, the official journal of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), an international professional association for nonprofit researchers and practitioners. She also serves on the fiduciary board for Boston Cares, the largest volunteer service agency in New England, and was previously appointed as a commissioner to the City of Somerville Commission for Women.
Part of our deep hope is to give all of you, our IS member community, the opportunity to engage with Heather and her work over the next year. More on that in the weeks and months to come.
Welcome, Heather, to this community!
Jeff Moore is Chief Strategy Officer at Independent Sector.